Teaching couple’s some basic skills, watching them learn and utilize them is rewarding. Couples can improve their relationships with some minor tweaks and some relationship care. Gottman teaches a set of skills for improving our marriages and partnerships. I teach these skills and talk a lot about Gottman’s techniques and theory on lasting relationships with couples in my office.
Here is a handout on some of Gottman's ideas:
What areas do you and your partner need to work on?
Another concept Gottman talks about is the Four Horseman. These are four negative and unhealthy ways couples may communicate with each other. Gottman actually predicts if you use some of them the relationship won't last. Do you use any of these unhealthy communication styles in your relationship?
Gottman’s Four Horseman of the Apocalypse
- CRITICISM: Attacking your partner’s personality of character to make them wrong.
- CONTEMPT: Attacking your partner’s sense of self with the intention of insult or psychological harm (sarcasm, mockery, etc.).
- DEFENSIVENESS: Seeing yourself as the victim and responding as such. (Excuses, cross-complaining, defending instead of listening).
- STONEWALLING: Withdrawing from the relationship to avoid conflict (silent treatment, monosyllabic responses).
The first step to change is recognizing the problem. Once you identify the dysfunctional patterns in your relationship you can work to change them and experience a more healthy and rewarding relationship!
If you want to read the book that explains these concepts more in-depth here it is!