“Working briefly on your marriage every day will do more for your health and longevity than working out at a health club”
― John Gottman
John Gottman is an American psychologist who has focused a considerable amount of his work on divorce prediction and marital stability. The purpose of his work was to turn his findings into practical tips that aim to improve relationships. So, what makes a relationship work?
All Gottman’s findings were researched based after studying numerous couples who had been together for a variety of different lengths of time. It eventually led to his own very successful form of couples’ therapy. This focused on several valuable qualities needed as a partner and how to deal with conflict within the relationship.
“I find Gottmans’s tools extremely helpful and effective when helping couples.”
It is never my intention to judge either party, or choose sides. Both are my clients and are treated as equals in the relationship. There are no secrets in couples therapy. My focus as their therapist is to help the individuals voice their needs and find common ground where we can start rebuilding.
Making a relationship work in such a way that both parties feel heard, understood and respected is not difficult to do once you have the correct tools. This can take time, hard work and most of all determination. Read on to find out what makes a relationship work.
The 7 qualities your relationship needs to make it last
From all the collated research, Gottman produced his own book named Seven Principles for Making marriage work. This helps couples to focus on each other and the core elements of what bought the couple together. It also helps change negative behaviours and patterns that impact the stability of the relationship.
Let’s look at each of those seven principles in more detail.
1. Love Maps
This is where couples know everything there is to know about each other. From their favourite colour and best meal, to being on a much deeper level with knowing their worst fears. They know what drives them in life and how they will react in certain situations. Getting to know each other “inside out” takes time but couples who know each other greatly, flourish.
2. Nurture your fondness and admiration.
You may drive each other crazy with little annoying habits we each have. However, you should look at your partner on a deeper level. This means having respect and admiration for them. Gottman considers these two points crucial, so if you do, you are on the right track!
3. Turn toward each other instead of away.
Sometimes it’s the little things that count. Bringing a cup of tea to your partner in bed in the mornings or giving them a call after their job interview. It could be leaving a kind note before you head off to work. Whatever the gesture, they all matter.
What also matters is the reaction given from the partner receiving these little gestures. Do they make you turn to your partner? Or do you turn away and disengage as though they don’t matter to you?
4. Let your partner influence you.
This is referring to power imbalances within relationships. If one person feels as though their views are never listened to or that their decisions never hold any weight, this can cause all sorts of issues. It can also affect the previous principles. Working together as a team builds a stronger connection between you both.
5. Solve your solvable problems.
All couples argue or have disagreements. We are all individual and unique and therefore that also applies to our way of thinking. The issue here isn’t necessarily the disagreements, it’s how they are dealt with that matters. A couple can disagree over something but come to a resolution of how they will move past it. Or they can simply agree to disagree but continue as they had done before, these are the ideal scenarios.
6. Overcome gridlock.
Sometimes we each have dreams that simply can’t be fulfilled by the other partner. Subsequently, instead of being accepted as such and moving on, they tend to creep up time after time. These are usually more emotive topics that have impacted us in such a way that emotions flood any kind of rational reasoning.
An example could be if one partner wants children, but the other doesn’t. These types of disagreements aren’t ones that can be resolved by giving into what the other partner wants. Instead, acknowledging each other’s dreams, encouraging each other to achieve those dreams, if possible. However, if not, recognising this and the impact it may have on your partner and coming to peace with it.
7. Create shared meaning.
This principle is based around creating an environment that encompasses both of your morals and values. Where respect and encouragement for each other becomes a part of normal daily life. Much like getting out of bed in the morning or brushing your teeth is just a part of your routine. Being a good friend, a solid trustworthy partner who we know we can rely on in times of upset and anxiety to make us feel better. Developing a deep connection in this way towards each other, helps us to feel secure and valued as part of the relationship.
What makes a relationship work?
If you feel that you are struggling with any areas within your relationship, I can help you get back on track. I offer professionally designed couples sessions with practical support throughout.
For more information on how I can help your relationship, please get in contact.