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Gottman Couples Therapy: Key Principles And What You Can Do Now

Among other therapy approaches, the Gottman Method stands out in its ability to help couples have lasting relationships. Developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, their method is grounded in over four decades of scientific research and clinical practice. It identifies specific behaviors and interactions that lead to the breakdown of relationships. To fix these negative interactions, it provides the tools to develop healthier dynamics. Here are the key principles of Gottman couples therapy and the first steps you can take to benefit your relationship today.

Key principles of Gottman couples therapy

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  • Building love maps

This is the detailed knowledge partners have about each other’s worlds. This includes knowing one another’s likes, dislikes, hopes, dreams, and daily routines. Continuously expanding these maps allows you to stay deeply connected.

  • Nurturing fondness and admiration

A relationship thrives on mutual respect and affection. Expressing appreciation and admiration for your partner creates a positive emotional connection. Reflecting on these moments also builds your fondness for one another.

  • Turning towards each other

Relationships are made up of small, everyday moments. The Gottman Method emphasizes the importance of turning towards your partner’s bids for attention, affection, and support. These small acts of connection will deepen your sense of intimacy and trust.

  • The positive perspective

Maintaining a positive perspective involves seeing the best in your partner and the relationship. This principle encourages couples to give each other the benefit of the doubt when in conflict. It’s important to bring a positive approach when solving problems and celebrating your wins.

  • Managing Conflict

The Gottman Method looks at conflicts as moments to be managed rather than solved. It provides tools for gentle start-ups, accepting positive influence from your partner, and de-escalating conflicts. It also emphasizes the importance of compromise and finding common ground.

  • Making life dreams come true

In a fulfilling relationship, both partners support each other’s dreams and aspirations. This involves open communication about your individual goals and working together to support one another’s ambitions.

  • Creating shared meaning

Building a life together involves creating shared rituals, goals, and values. This can include anything from small, daily routines to long-term visions for your future. These shared elements provide your relationship with a sense of purpose.

Tips for implementing Gottman principles

  • Expand your love maps

Spend time each week asking your partner open-ended questions about their day, thoughts, and feelings. Make sure to be fully invested and listen attentively. Try incorporating this into a consistent routine, over coffee on the weekends or while making dinner.

  • Express your appreciation every day

Make it a habit to acknowledge and thank your partner for the little things they do. Whether they make your coffee while you’re too tired or listen to your problems after work, let them know how much you appreciate it.

  • Respond to their bids for connection

Pay attention to your partner’s bids for attention and respond positively. This could be as simple as a smile, a hug, or a conversation. These moments of connection add up and strengthen your bond.

  • Create relationship rituals

Find a daily or weekly routine that’ll bring you closer together. This could be as simple as getting ready for bed at the same time or going for a walk on Sunday mornings. When you take time to enjoy one another’s company, you’ll feel a deeper connection.

Are you ready to try Gottman couples therapy?

Whether you want to give your relationship a tune-up or you’re working through a difficult conflict, the Gottman Method is one approach that can help. Together, you and your partner can deepen your connection while learning to manage conflicts, show appreciation, and inhabit each other’s worlds.
To find out more about the key principals of Gottman couples therapy, please reach out to us.

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor at Ammirati Counseling
Terri A. Ammirati, LCPC, has 25+ years of clinical experience. She is a Certified Gottman Therapist and presents Gottman's "The Art and Science of Love" couples workshop.

Terri specializes in empowering clients to strengthen their relationships. She works with all aspects of relational distress and provides solution-focused therapy.
Terri A. Ammirati