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Gottman Couples Therapy

Jareena Silva

What is Gottman Couples Therapy?

Gottman Couples Therapy is an evidence-based approach to couples counseling that focuses on helping couples identify and resolve conflicts, deepen their understanding and appreciation of one another, and improve the overall health of their relationship.

The Gottman Method is based on the Sound Relationship House Theory. A house is used as a metaphor for a secure and stable relationship. In this metaphoric house there are 7 levels or "floors", which a couple can explore in order to improve and strenghten their relationship. The house also includes "weight-bearing walls" that are needed to hold the couple together through their journey.

The 7 Floors of The Sound Relationship House

Floor 1:

Build Love MapsThe foundation of a successful relationship is learning about each other. This is the first step of the Sound Relationship House. Building a "Love Map" is key to this process. This map involves getting to know your partner and their preferences. Asking the right questions is essential in creating this map and understanding your partner better than anyone else.

Floor 2:

Share Fondness and AdmirationWe all need to be reminded of how special we are every now and then, and it's especially meaningful when it comes from our partner. Expressing your fondness for them and what you love about them can make a huge difference. In a healthy relationship, you should both be vocal about all the reasons you love each other.

Floor 3:

Turn TowardsWhen you need emotional support from your partner, you can show it through a gesture or word, which the Gottmans call a “bid”. Your partner responds to this bid when they provide what you need. If they turn away or worse, turn against it, it can put strain on the relationship. On the other hand, if both of you recognize and respond to each other's bids, it makes it easier to express your emotions and needs in a secure environment.

Floor 4:

The Positive PerspectiveHaving a Positive Perspective means viewing life in a more optimistic light. In a healthy relationship, couples should always look for the best in each other and avoid jumping to conclusions. A Positive Perspective means understanding that they may just have been preoccupied and not thinking, rather than deliberately neglectful.

Floor 5:

Manage ConflictIt is impossible to completely avoid conflict in any relationship, so it is important to know how to handle it when it arises. The best way to do this is to accept your partner's influence and consider their feelings and desires. Additionally, you should discuss any problems that arise, both solvable and perpetual.

Floor 6:

Make Life Dreams Come TrueThe joy of having a supportive companion is that they will not only motivate you to achieve your ambitions, but also help you accomplish them. Making life dreams come true is a clear indication that you wish for your partner to experience the best life possible, and that you are willing to do whatever it takes to make that a reality.

Floor 7:

Create Shared MeaningAt the highest level of the Sound Relationship House, couples build and comprehend an inner world as a team. Referred to by the Gottmans as the development of a culture of symbols and rituals that indicate the couple's unity, these Rituals of Connection can be as basic as getting pizza from the same spot each Friday night or as intricate as special ways to celebrate birthdays.

The Weight-Bearing Walls

The Sound Relationship House may have many floors, but without the pillars of trust and commitment it cannot stand strong. In a healthy, supportive relationship, two people must vow to put faith in each other and remain together. They should have the courage to love one another unreservedly and strive to nurture that love.

What Does the Gottman Method Help Couples with?

The Gottman Method is helpful for all couples regardless of age or length of relationship. Some issue areas that the Gottman Method can support couples with are:

  • Infidelity
  • Having a difficult time communicating
  • Feelings distanced from one anotherIntimacy concerns
  • Financial-stress
  • Parenting
  • Chronic conflict

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Gottman Couples Therapy


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About the Author

Jareena is MyWellbeing's Community Manager and is dedicated to supporting MyWellbeing's providers in order for them to offer the best possible care for you. Jareena is a mental health advocate and aims to identify ways to destigmatize discussions around mental health and how to make care more accessible.