Defining the Gottman Method, Part 1

Image fromUnsplash by Carly Rae Hobbins

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 will start by exploring the three aspects of FRIENDSHIP & INTIMACY.

Friendship is the foundation of any strong relationship. There are three “practices” when trying to strengthen the friendship within a marriage or couple. We’ll look at each of them over the next few weeks, then move on to the other two cornerstones.

The first dimension important in fostering friendship and intimacy is called Building Love Maps.

Have you ever been on a date, or met a colleague who told you about themselves but never asked about you? How did that make you feel? Probably not very important.

This is what happens to couples over time. Often, the conversations end up being about who needs to walk the dog, fetch the kids, cook dinner tonight. Conversations like these are transactions—we are interacting, but not connecting.

When we first meet, our goal is to get to know our new partner. We ask questions about their history, daily life, values. This process is called building a love map because we are creating a mental map of what we learn about the other person.

The skill we focus on is to create protected time and routines around talking with each other in ways that allow you to continue to learn more about each other. You are not the same person you were a year ago, or 20 years ago, and neither is your partner. We are always changing and growing.

Just like a traffic map, our love map for each other needs updating with current information— what is going on for each other right now? Generally we talk to each other like friends, which is a good thing. When that doesn’t happen, life becomes transactional and distant. We talk with each other like colleagues instead of friends.

By building love maps, you will accomplish 2 goals:

  1. You will understand each other better by staying up to date on each other’s lives, and
  2. You will feel my partner cares about me.

Building Love Maps sets the stage for the second dimension important in fostering friendship and intimacy: Sharing Fondness and Admiration. We’ll dive into that one in our November 9 post.

Have questions or want to learn more about Couples Therapy? CLICK HERE to contact Dr. Parker