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  • What Are The Key Principles Of Gottman Couples Therapy?

    All couples deal with conflict. Whether it be large, messy problems or smaller, day-to-day issues, it’s important to not putting off getting help with navigating difficult conversations. Couples therapy can this help by creating a safe space where you can learn how to respectfully manage conflict with your partner.

    In this article, we will discuss what the Gottman Method of couples therapy is, how it is used in therapy, and what you can accomplish in your relationship by applying this method.

    What is the Gottman Method of relationship therapy?

    The Gottman Method, developed primarily through the research of Dr. Gottman, teaches couples how to identify unhealthy patterns in their relationship, and make effective and positive changes that deepen their sense of trust, connection, and friendship. It focuses on creating open and authentic communication and building respectful and constructive conflict-management skills. 

    Dr. Gottman found that healthy relationships require nine essential qualities and pictured these qualities as a house with seven floors and two walls, which he called The Sound Relationship House. 

    The Sound Relationship House helps couples understand how to build a safe space together. It examines most dimensions of their relationship so they can dismantle what’s not working and learn the skills they need to build a healthy relationship. 

    Building a Healthier Relationship Using the Sound Relationship House

    As stated above, The Sound Relationship House theory uses a house as a metaphor for your relationship. This symbolic house has seven floors, and two walls, each being a specific and essential quality of a healthy and connected relationship. Below we’ll take a brief look at all seven floors and the two walls.

    image of the sound relationship house showing the different levels

    The Two Walls


    This is exactly what it sounds like—both partners being committed, long-term, to the health and well-being of the relationship.


    Trust is much more than being honest and transparent. Though these are obviously critical in both monogamous and polyamorous relationships (though defined differently), it is also about how one behaves one when one’s partner needs them. Trust is built when partners consistently listen to each other, show up for each other, and take each other’s’ side. It is destroyed little by little when partners ignore each other, try to prove each other wrong, and fail to support and align with each other.

    The Seven Floors

    Build love maps

    Think of a love map as your understanding of your partner’s world–their likes and dislikes, their hopes and dreams, their sources of stress and relaxation, and their fears and concerns. Making the effort to stay up-to-date about how your partner experiences the world goes a long way toward helping you communicate better and express more love and care. That’s why your love maps are the foundation of your relationship house. Everyone in an intimate relationship wants and deserves to feel known.

    Cultivate fondness and admiration

    Functioning well as a couple means enjoying and appreciating your partner. Everyone wants to be in a relationship where they feel their partner is fond of them and appreciates who they are, and the contributions they make in the relationship. In struggling relationships, one or both partners express feeling taken for granted and feel like they don’t get credit for the good things they are trying to do.

    Turn toward each other

    One of the big reasons people couple up is because they want someone to be there for them, to “have their back,” support them, be on their side, and listen to them. In short, people in relationships want a partner, and think this is what they will be getting. When their partner doesn’t express interest in them, they often feel hurt and alone, like they don’t matter, or like their needs and problems are an inconvenience to their partner. 

    Remain positive about the relationship

    The long-term effect of a troubled relationship is coming to view your partner and the relationship in a negative way, and interpreting each other’s actions, words, and intentions negatively. People in healthy relationships work to maintain a positive view of one another and the relationship.

    Effectively manage conflict.

    Conflict is inevitable in all relationships. Managing conflict effectively, instead of avoiding or escalating it, it is a critical part of having a happy relationship with your partner. At its core, conflict management involves:

    • Accepting your partner’s influence. (Seeing and understanding their perspective, even if you don’t agree with them.)

    • Having an open dialogue. (Both of you get to talk, but you’re attentive to who talks and when.)

    • Practicing self-soothing when things get heated. (Take a walk, get some air, come back with a level head.)

    Support each other’s life dreams

    Although you are a couple, you both remain individual human beings, with your own dreams and goals for your life. Partners in connected relationships understand how critical it is to support one another’s personal dreams and goals. 

    Build a sense of shared meaning in your relationship

    Couples have a sense of shared meaning when they can both say, “I love us.” They love who they are with their partner. They are excited by the connection they have built with one another. They are delighted that they get to spend the precious moments of their one and only lives with each other.

    What you can achieve

    The Gottman Method can be an effective therapeutic approach for couples experiencing challenges. Of course, both partners need to be ready to do the work. By being honest with yourselves and your therapist, you can work as a team to create a better partnership.

    If you and your partner would like to improve your relationship, talking to a therapist could help. Reach out today to learn more about couples therapy.