Defining the Gottman Method, Part 3

Image from Unsplash by Nick Sewings

I am frequently asked to explain The Gottman Method used in my practice. This counseling method is based on research studying thousands of REAL couples over many years together, and isolating and identifying the important skills, habits, and mindset that either make or break a relationship.

The three cornerstones of this method are: 1) Friendship and Intimacy, 2) Conflict Management, and 3) Shared Meetings.

We began our exploration of Friendship and Intimacy in the October 26 post on Building Love Maps, and built upon it in the November 9 post on Sharing Fondness and Admiration.

Today we’ll focus on the final dimension of Friendship and Intimacy, called Turning Toward Bids.

How many big or small interactions do you and your partner have over the course of an hour? Asking How Are You? is what we call a bid. It looks like the weather is fine is a bid. You hurt my feelings last night is a bid. I’m worried that we aren’t saving enough for our retirement is a bid.

All bids are calls for connection and interaction.

Couples who thrive are good at consistently responding to each other’s bids in a warm and receptive way. When your partner puts out their hand for a connection, that is a moment of vulnerability.

When our bids are consistently received with kindness, warmth, and affirmation, we feel secure that the other is there for us, for the big needs and the small needs.

Similarly, if we are missing or rejecting each other’s bids, we become disconnected over time, and that disconnection grows and grows.

Let’s say you spend an hour together on a Saturday morning and have 100 moments of interaction. How do you feel at the end of the hour if most are received with love and affection?

How do you feel if they are not?

Multiply that by seven days a week, 52 weeks in a year, and your relationship is either strong or corroded.

The next time your partner asks How Was Your Day?, think of it as a bid for connection, and don’t just respond with fine. Turn to them, say something meaningful about your day, then ask them how they are doing.

is the third and final aspect of Friendship and Intimacy, the first cornerstone of the Gottman Method. Next, we will turn our attention to the second cornerstone: Conflict Management.

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