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Breaking Down the Stigma: A Look at Online Counseling (1)

Evidence-based therapy for couples.

Gottman Method Couples Therapy, developed in the 1980s by Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, is a research-based method that assists couples in developing relationship skills based on the Sound Relationship House Theory. 

The goal is to help couples achieve a deeper sense of understanding, awareness, empathy, and connectedness in their relationships that ultimately lead to a heightened sense of intimacy, care, and compassion.

This renowned therapeutic method helps couples:

  • Identify and address natural defenses that hinder effective communication
  • Manage conflict and bring back playfulness 
  • Create shared meaning, connect deeper, and strengthen their bond

Here’s a look inside some of Gottman’s theories

The relationship myths versus realities:

Myth: Infidelity is the major cause of Divorce

Reality:  The most frequent causes of divorce are a high degree of conflict and loss of intimacy and connection.

Escalation of criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling can lead to divorce.

The number of positive interactions between partners in stable relationships during an argument is 5 to 1. Couples who are heading towards divorce have 20% fewer positive interactions than negative ones.

MYTH: Couples start off happy but over time they stop building each other up.

Reality: Gottman’s research has found that people in long-term relationships become more important to one another and small acts of kindness have a big impact.

MYTH: Men are more task-oriented and women are more emotional.

Reality: Research demonstrates that in families, men and women are equally as task-oriented and both are just as emotional.

MYTH: A healthy relationship is not possible unless all of your past issues have been resolved first.

Reality: The success of your relationship will depend on how these issues are managed, not on them completely disappearing.

Conflict in a relationship is not a bad thing and we do not want to avoid it. Conflict in our relationships is an opportunity to learn more about our partners, grow with them and deepen our connection. By learning the appropriate skills, we can do it effectively and creatively.

John Gottman’s research found that 69% of the conflicts we have with our partners are perpetual. This means that the arguments that you are having today will likely be the arguments you are having five years from now. We do not look for resolution with these arguments, rather we look to manage them.

MYTH: A failure to communicate is one of the main reasons for couples to argue.

Reality: Actually, there are many causes of conflict in a relationship. However, conflict can be used to deepen intimacy and increase trust if approached properly.

Communication styles between partners can have a huge impact on how conversations go.  Dr. Gottman found that the way the conversation starts is often how the conversation will end.

MYTH: If your expectations are high it will lead to disappointment, therefore, you’re better off lowering them.

Reality: Gottman found that those who expect to be treated well in a relationship get treated well and those who lower their expectations also get what they expect which is less.

Gottman’s Four Horsemen:

Gottman Couples Therapy identifies four toxic behaviors that will cause a partner to have feelings of disconnection, isolation, and loneliness. When one or both partners continue to feel isolated and disconnected from their partner the relationship will suffer and may even begin to unravel.

Criticism: Blaming your partner’s personality or character for what’s wrong with the relationship. When you use criticism, you imply that there is something wrong with your partner. Using words such as “you always” or “you never” are common ways to criticize. Your partner is most likely to feel under attack and respond defensively.

Defensiveness: Warding off criticism by counterattacking or by feeling like an innocent victim. Unfortunately, this keeps partners from accepting responsibility for problems and escalates negative communication.  

Contempt: Any statement or nonverbal behavior that makes you superior to your partner. Insults, putdowns, name-calling, mocking your partner, rolling your eyes, and sneering in disgust are all examples of contempt. Contempt is the most serious of the horsemen because it will destroy the fondness and admiration between couples.

Stonewalling: Emotional withdrawal from the interaction. The stonewaller might physically leave or they might stop engaging in the conversation and appear to shut down. They may look like they do not care (80% men) but that is typically not the case. Usually, they are overwhelmed and are trying to calm down. This typically does not work because it is assumed that they do not care enough about the problem to talk about it.

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Change Your Relationships for the Better