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Strengthening Your Relationship: How to Succeed in Gottman Couples Therapy

Relationships are not always easy to navigate. In fact, they require nurturing, attention, and sometimes, a little extra care. Whether you are trying to push through a rough patch or simply seeking to enhance the bond with your partner, couples therapy can be a valuable resource in building a stronger and more fulfilling relationship.

There are various forms of couples therapy. However, the Gottman Method stands out for its evidenced-based techniques and practical strategies for improving communication, resolving conflicts, and deepening an emotional connection. Here’s how you can succeed with Gottman couples therapy and strengthen your relationship.

1. Understanding the Gottman Method

This method of couples therapy was developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, and is grounded in research on marital stability and relationship dynamics. The pair came up with the concept of the “Sound Relationship House,” which comprises nine components that are essential for a healthy relationship, including trust, commitment, conflict resolution, and shared meaning.

During therapy sessions, couples learn to recognize and address negative interaction patterns with a method the Gottmans call “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. To overcome these issues, this method encourages positive behaviors such as expressing fondness and admiration, and turning towards each other’s call for connection.

2. Effective Communication Skills

Communication is the root of all healthy relationships. In Gottman couples therapy, couples learn practical tools to express their needs, feelings, and concerns. These skills include active listening, using “I” statements, and validating each other’s perspectives.

In relationships, it can be difficult to not blame or criticize your partner for issues within the dynamic. By fostering open and honest dialogue, couples can deepen their understanding of each other’s experiences and strengthen their emotional connection.

3. Conflict Resolution Strategies

Conflicts are inevitable in any relationship, but it’s how couples navigate these conflicts that determines the health of their partnership. The Gottman Method teaches couples effective conflict resolution skills to manage disagreements in a respectful and productive manner.

Couples learn to take breaks when discussions become too heated, practice self-soothing techniques to manage emotional reactivity, and engage in compromise and negotiation to find mutually acceptable solutions. By constructively handling conflicts, couples can prevent resentment from building up and promote greater intimacy and trust.

4. Building Friendship and Intimacy

A strong friendship forms the foundation for a solid romantic relationship. In Gottman couples therapy, couples are encouraged to further explore their friendship by finding activities that promote connection. Sharing dreams and aspirations and helping one another with these goals is another way to build intimacy and increase quality time spent together.

The Gottmans suggest that another key to relationship success is accepting each other’s “bids”, which they refer to as your partner’s reach at connecting. Bids can look like asking for reassurance, sharing stories about your day, and affectionate touching. By focusing on these grasps for attention, couples can deepen their emotional bond.

5. Practice and Commitment

Like any skill, strengthening your relationship requires patience and commitment. Success in the Gottman couples therapy does not happen overnight — it’s a journey that requires ongoing effort, practice, and dedication from both partners. Couples are encouraged to apply tools learned in therapy to their daily interactions, communicate openly about their needs, and support each other’s growth and development. By investing time and energy into this relationship, couples can become resilient and form a thriving partnership.

The Gottman Method offers couples a roadmap for navigating the complexities of relationships. If you feel this method could benefit you and your partner, it may be helpful to seek help from a mental health professional. In Gottman couples therapy, counselors can create a safe environment to explore relationship issues with commitment and perseverance. Reach out and schedule a session with your partner today!