The Essential Guide to a Stable Marriage
Have you been wondering what went so wrong in your relationship? I have! I thought I knew how to love and to be loved back. Then I got lost being hopeless. It is such a relief that someone guide you through in such a moment. Today, I would like to share the Gottman Sound Relationship House, a road map to a stable marriage. Gottman Institute is a research based organization where Dr. Julie and John Gottman have studied couple nearly four decades. As a level two certified Gottman therapist, I have been using their research based road map to help couples to navigate through rocky moments. I hope this blog will provide a welcome road post, " this way" to your desired outcome.
Why changing mind set is so important?
Often couples in therapy share how they lost trust and the commitment has been shaken. Although I totally relate to the loss and the fear, Gottman Sound Relationship House asks us to look at Trust and commitment as something to build. They suggest the relationship is a house to build, a brick by brick. Rather than thinking you have had trust, it might be helpful to consider you are building the trust with your partner. This might be true if you are fairly new to the relationship, however, when you are married a decade or two, you want to believe trust and commitment were solid, right?
Again, the metaphor of the house is useful in that case. We all know the homes we live need a repair and remodeling time to time. Especially when the relationship has been left out over career and raising kids, your relationship home may be up for a major repair.
So think about relationship, especially trust and commitment is something work towards rather than having it done once is often where my couples clients start making progress. Of course, sharing the grief-upset-resenement over the loss of trust is a critical step in therapy. I always encourage my clients to take time in this critical phase of therapy. However, Gottman Sound Relationship House helps those who wonder what comes next after the loss.
Why conflicts are part of a solid marriage?
If you are a conflict avoidant like me, this is hard to accept, isn't it? I used to believe if I learn how to communicate better, I don't have to fight with my partner. Well, clearly, the research does not indicate that as true.
"Dr. John Gottman’s research proves that 69% of problems in a relationship are unsolvable. These may be things like personality traits your partner has that rub you the wrong way, or long-standing issues around spending and saving money. Their research findings emphasize the idea that couples must learn to manage conflict rather than avoid or attempt to eliminate it." - The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work
69%!!!! And you are expected to work through finance, sex, how to raise a child or two...
No wonder we feel defeated time to time.
Then, how do you manage conflicts if they are essential part of having relationship?
How Kate and Doug worked through is to be willing to manage their own response being in a conflict. Through talking about the problem in therapy, they started noticing how they get upset, Kate starts crying and Doug shuts down. By learning how to sooth their emotions, they got to the stage of being able to talk without blaming and to listen without being defensive.
Kate, "I just could not hear him because I thought it was all about me. I did something wrong."
Doug, "I was already feeling bad, so I could not hear Kate's need without guilt taking over me."
They are still continuing dialogues to understand what happened and why it was so upsetting to each other. Are they comfortable having conflicts?
"No! But I am glad we did not loose each other because we thought we cannot overcome the conflicts. Learning each other's realities helps us to see the misunderstanding and to be more open to what works for each other."
They are taking the last step of Accept Your partner's Influence in the stage of Manage Conflict.
Do you want to build a solid relationship house?
The fictional couple, Kate and Doug, represents majority of the couple I work with. When they learn how to manage conflicts rather than to avoid or eliminate, they are ready to repair the trust and to re-build the committment. Changing the mindset about conflict can bring up your own upbringing and how you come to perceive the conflict. That itself serves as a step towards trusting your partner. Wherever you might start, Gottman Sound Relationship House will guide you through the direction you want with your partner.
Just remember that conflicts are there because you are in a relationship, and how to do with it makes you stronger and more stable.