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  • Tori Nieusma, LCSW

How To Build a Strong Relationship

Updated: Oct 22, 2021

Relationships thrive off of good communication and connection. If we do not have the proper skills to navigate differences of perspective and daily challenges, we are likely to fall into ongoing patterns of conflict. The good news is we have a way to combat this!

Cue - The Gottman Method.

The Gottman Method is a research based couple’s modality created by Drs. John and Julie Gottman that aims to help couples build stronger relationships.

The Gottman Method interventions operate based on The Sound Relationship House theory. This theory focuses on overcoming relational barriers through conflict resolution and connection building.

There are a total of nine factors that make up the Sound Relationship House. These nine factors consist of:

· Trust and Commitment - the two walls of the house. The belief that our partner has our back and that the relationship is a lifelong journey. Without trust in our partner and a commitment to our relationship, we have no structure.

· Build Love Maps. This is the foundational level of Sound Relationship House and involves friendship building. This level involves continuing to learn our partners by asking connection building questions. (Download Gottman Card Decks on your phone to begin Love Map Exercises today!)

· Share Fondness and Admiration. Level two of the house is also centered on strengthening the relational friendship. This level is also the antidote for contempt (see Four Horsemen referenced below). This is about sharing things your partner does that you enjoy rather than the things you want to see change. This shift creates a culture of appreciation rather than criticism or contempt.

· Turn Towards - the final friendship building level. Turn Towards focuses on bids for connection. Bids for connection are anything that we do that may signal we are looking to connect with our partner. In this level we work to recognize bids from our partner and embrace the opportunity to connect.

· The Positive Perspective. This level comes as a result of building the first three levels. When we see our partners as friends we are more likely to stay in Positive Sentiment Override. This means that we will exhibit positivity during conversation rather than negativity.

· Manage Conflict! This level is so important for a sound relationship and is often the one that we focus on most in therapy. This is also where we find our Four Horsemen: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. Each of these horsemen have their own antidote, or skills, designed to beat them. Managing conflict is about identification of these patterns and implementation of learned skills.

· Make Life Dreams and Aspirations Come True. This level of our house is all about adventure and exploration. The focus is on exploring your partner's life dreams and working together to fulfill them.

· Create Shared Meaning - the attic. We have built our friendship, fostered positivity, and managed effective conflict resolution. Now we can move into establishing what life as a team will look like. Discussions of visions, values, and rituals for the relationship take place here.

In therapy we review all nine parts of the Sound Relationship House and identify areas for growth. We then work through each level and its established interventions, providing you and your partner with specific skills for implementing positive change within your relationship.

Reach out to us today if you are interested in learning more or want to see how this method can help improve your relationship!

**For additional resources and quick tips sign Up for The Gottman Institute Marriage in a Minute Newsletter via this link: Marriage Minute - Couples | The Gottman Institute**

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