In a nutshell, the Gottman method is a research-based approach that aims at creating stronger relationships within the couple Based on over 40 years of research with more than 3,000 couples, the Gottman method therapy will give you new insights and research-based skills that can dramatically improve the intimacy and friendship in your relationship and help you manage conflict in a healthy, positive way. It will give you the tools to reconnect with your partner and the knowledge that “we can do this” together. This approach is not based on an idealistic notion of what marriage should to be. It is rather based on what actually works in relationships that are happy and stable. At One Plus One Counselling, you will learn how to nurture respect, affection, and closeness, build and share a deeper connection with each other, keep conflict discussions calm, break through and resolve conflict and strengthen and maintain the gains in your relationship. Gottman's model fit with 87.4% accuracy for classifying couples who divorce (or not) within the couples’ first five years of marriage. The Gottman Method Couple’s Therapy based on his research findings. The therapy aims to increase respect, affection, and closeness, break through and resolve conflict, generate greater understandings, and to keep conflict discussions calm. The Gottman Method seeks to help couples build happy and stable marriages.
Can we predict happy marriage? Can we predict divorce?
Gottman developed multiple models, scales and formulas to predict marital stability and divorce in couples, and has completed several studies in this field. This work concludes that the four negative behaviors that most predict divorce are criticism of partners’ personality, contempt (from a position of superiority), defensiveness, and stonewalling, or emotional withdrawal from interaction. On the other hand, stable couples handle conflicts in gentle, positive ways, and are supportive of each other. Gottman’s research has shown that there are some patterns of interaction in a relationship that are very destructive to love: there are four things that really destroy marriages. He uses the analogy of the four horseman of the apocalypse as a way to describe the four main dangers that a couple faces in their relationship. The four horsemen of the apocalypse are the signs that your marriage is under attack. They cause “Fights About Nothing” in the couple. If you do use any of those at home, a therapy can certainly help you learn to recognize them and give you the skills to stop using them. Note: By using this analogy, we must say that John Gottman, a Jewish orthodox, does not intend to give a theological interpretation of the Christian book of the Apocalypse. Generally speaking, Christians interpret the horsemen as a prophecy of a future tribulation. The Four Horsemen are the first in a series of judgements that aim at giving humanity a chance to repent and be redeemed.
1. Criticism: occurs when a person is attacking his or her partner’s personality or character with the intention of making someone right and someone wrong: “you always do that…” “you never say anything when…”“you’re the type of person who …” “why are you so …” In criticism, a person formulates a complaint as if there’s something wrong in his/her partner. One puts the other one down. It is a generalisation of a flaw in your partner’s personality. There is a direct implication that something is wrong with your partner’s character. e.g “You’re an idiot!” Here, we should not confuse criticism with complaint. It’s ok to formulate a complaint because it is directed at a behavior you want to change. A criticism is an attack on the person. Here is an example: Samantha just discovered that the gallon of milk stayed on the counter all day. Complaint: “The milk stayed on the counter all day again and has turned sour. Please try to put the milk back in the fridge after you use it.” Criticism: “What’s wrong with you? Are you that lazy that you won’t even put down the milk back into the fridge after you used it?” Criticism hurts deeply because it suggests that there is really a problem with the other person. On the other hand, when a complaint is formulated, the couple discuss and debate the problem around even if you disagree. With a criticism, it is not the problem that is the center of the dispute but the person. “You are the problem”! And this is evidently much more problematic and hurtful. At One Plus One Counselling, our couple therapy aims at changing this bad habit. We want you to move from the disaster marriage who constantly criticizes to the happy marriage we know how to formulate a complaint in order to improve the relationship. We realize how difficult it is to break a chronic pattern of criticizing. This is why we do urge couple to invest in therapy so that their relationship can be renewed.
2. Contempt: occurs when a person is attacking his/her partner’s sense of self with the intention to insult or psychologically abuse him/her. For instance, insults and name-calling: “bitch, bastard, wimp, fat, stupid, ugly, slob, lazy…”. Also, hostile humor, sarcasm or mockery. Body language and tone of voice: sneering, rolling your eyes, curling your upper lip can be classified as contempt. At times, partners can mock each other or correct each other. Always, the message conveyed is one of superiority: “I am better than you, you are beneath me.” The person indulging in contempt tends to look around to find faults and mistakes in the other partner instead of what is positive and enjoyable about their partner. Being contemptuous is to put someone down and feel superior. Contempt is a serious threat when present in a relationship; nothing is more destructive to love. At One Plus One Counselling, our couple therapy focus on changing the couple’s mindset; to do that, we have to change a lot of things in your way of relating. Fight contempt is difficult. Couples have to work hard to create a culture of appreciation by “catching” your partner doing something great and tell them you appreciate them for what they are doing.
3. Defensiveness: occurs when a person is seeing self as the victim, warding off a perceived attack. Then the person makes excuses and claims external circumstances beyond his/her control as the cause for he/she to you to act in a certain way: “It’s not my fault…”, “I didn’t…” Cross-complaining also falls under Defensiveness. It consists as meeting the partner’s complaint, or criticism with a complaint of your own, ignoring what the partner said: “That’s not true; you’re the one who …” “I did this because you did that…” Again, Yes-butting is also a strategy that falls under defensiveness. By Yes-butting, the person starts off agreeing but end up disagreeing. Finally, repeating oneself without paying attention to what the other person is saying or whining are well known strategies of defensiveness: “It’s not fair.” Defensiveness is the habit that aims at protecting oneself; to claim your innocence or to ward off a perceived attack. At times, it is done by counter-attacking, or by whining. e.g. “Me? What about you?” Defensiveness causes things to escalate quickly because it sends the message that a person refuses to be impacted or influenced by what the other partner has to say. The partner facing defensiveness often feels that he/she have no impact, feels discounted and often become angry in response to defensiveness. As a result he/she is likely to escalate the fight to make the point. People in successful marriages tend to be more accepting some responsibility for what their partner is bringing to them. Here is an example of a defensive response to the gallon of milk: Defensiveness: “I didn’t even touch the milk. How could I have left it out on the counter top?” Accepting Influence: “I know you asked me before to try to put it back in the fridge. I don’t remember even using it, but I’ll put it back into the fridge next time.” At One Plus One Counselling, our couple therapy aims at changing Defensiveness. In order to attain this goal, you will need to develop the ability to accept some responsibility, no matter how small. Focusing on what you agree with your partner and less on what you disagree with will be the beginning of the cure. You will learn communicate differently and learn to express things like: “I see what you mean. What you say matters to me.”
“I'm a fallible human being - but if I were to react to that knowledge with fear/defensiveness then how would I move forward?” - Jay Woodman
4. Stonewalling: occurs when a person withdraws from the relationship as a way to avoid conflict. Partners may think they are trying to be “neutral” but stonewalling conveys disapproval, icy distance, separation, disconnection. Behaviour such as stony silence, monosyllabic mutterings, changing the subject, removing oneself physically, looking to the side, not maintaining eye contact, crossing one’s arms or giving the partner the silent treatment are part of the stonewalling strategy. The reason people often stonewall is because they become overwhelmed internally; they stop thinking very clearly and they get highly agitated. Stonewalling is an ineffective attempt to calm yourself down, but it is ineffective for the following reasons: The person who is stonewalling is thinking negative thoughts unceasingly in their minds. On the other hand, the partner who is experiencing the stonewalling often finds it very upsetting to be ignored. Most of the time, this partner will try to re-engage their partner by being more aggressive and speaking louder. This often lead to the escalation of the conflict. At One Plus One Counselling, our couple therapy aims at changing stonewalling by learning techniques to breaking this pattern and to re-engage in the conversation. This will require practice but will ultimately, you will be successful.
What will the therapy do for us? To change your relationship, these patterns of interaction have to be recognized and stopped. At One Plus One Counselling Calgary, we are devoted to helping you change these harmful interactions. In the therapy, you will learn how to make specific requests without falling into complaint. You will also learn how to use conscious communication; i.e. speaking without arguing and listening honestly. In addition, you will learn how to validate your partner, you will learn how to let your partner know what makes sense to you, you will learn how let them know you understand what they are feeling, At the same time, for the therapy to be successful, you will need to learn how to claim responsibility in your couple: “What can I learn from this?” “What can I do about it?” You will also need to re-write your inner script; replace thoughts of righteous indignation or innocent victimization with thoughts of appreciation, responsibility that are soothing and validating.
The Gottman method has been develop by the life work research in clinical psychology of Drs. John and Julie Gottman. After 40 years of research with more than 3,000 couples, they developed an approach to relationship health. To this day, it is the most extensive study ever done on marital stability and divorce prediction. Drs. John and Julie Gottman have published more than 200 academic journal articles and written 46 books that sold hundreds of thousands of copies in more than a dozen languages. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is a New York Times bestseller. John Gottman is a professor emeritus in psychology known for his work on marital stability and relationship analysis through scientific direct observations, many of which were published in peer-reviewed literature. The lessons derived from this work represent a partial basis for the relationship counseling movement that aims to improve relationship functioning and the avoidance of those behaviors shown by Gottman and other researchers to harm human relationships. Gottman was recognized in 2007 as one of the 10 most influential therapists of the past quarter century. "Gottman's research showed that it wasn't only how couples fought that mattered, but how they made up. Marriages became stable over time if couples learned to reconcile successfully after a fight."