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The Gottman Method

The Gottman Method, which emphasizes:    

• Facilitating and increasing respect, affection and intimacy.

• Conflict resolution

• Produce a better understanding between the couple.

• Decrease flooding in conflict situations by teaching each partner ways to manage stress.

The Gottman Method is founded on research and clinical practice.  The Gottman Method is structured and goal oriented, and scientifically based therapy.   Dr. Gottman has spent more than three decades researching couples and their interactions.

The theory of the Gottman Method is based on the following:

• Building love maps:  learning about your partners world through questions that address, history, stresses, worries, hopes and joy.

• Share Fondness and Admiration:  the expression of respect and admiration, which is also the antidote for contempt.

• Turn towards:  Be clear about what your needs are and state them to your partner concisely.

• The Positive Perspective:  Choosing a positive approach for problem solving and success through repair attempts.

• Manage Conflict:  There will always be conflict in a relationship therefore it is important to learn ways to effectively manage the conflict.

• Make Life Dreams Come True:  The couple will be encouraged to create an environment of honesty and compassion in sharing hopes, dreams, values, convictions and goals.

• Create Shared Meaning:  Facilitate couple in learning ways to understand and appreciate each other’s differences.


In the Gottman Method therapy couples will learn how to identify the harmful behaviors of the 4 Horsemen and what to do when this occurs.
The following are the 4 Horseman and the antidotes.


• Criticism promotes defensiveness.  Most of us are under the impression that criticism or judgment is warranted at times.  However, I would contend that there is no such thing as constructive criticism; it remains criticism with a ribbon around it to make it appear different.  Criticism is always an attack on your partner’s character and when you attack it forces the other to defend.  The antidote to criticism is utilizing "I" messages and taking responsibility.

• Contempt usually follows criticism by utilizing a contemptuous comment with the intention of causing harm to your partner i.e. “sarcasm, cynicism, name calling, eye rolling, sneering, mockery, and hostile humor”.   According to Dr. Gottman contempt is the most deadly of the 4 horsemen because it suggests revulsion for the partner.  The antidote for contempt shared fondness and admiration is means learning how to defuse your feelings by looking at your partner through kinder eyes and stop trying to one up your partner by taking a superior position.

• Defensiveness is a response to criticism and contempt.  Defensiveness is a  common response to being attacked.  Defensiveness ends up being a signal to your partner that he or she is wrong and you are right.  This is known as blaming your partner for the problem.  There is a statement from A Course In Miracles that I think is important to remember when we are trying to prove our rightness, “would you rather be right or happy.”   As a result of taking the, I’m right and you are wrong stance, the conflict usually escalates.  Due to the escalation one or the other partner tunes out and shuts down this leads to the next of harmful behavior, Stonewalling.  The antidote to defensiveness is   to listen to your partner’s complaint and transform it to a growth edge an opportunity to learn something about you instead of a negative complaint.  If you can truly listening and take in what your partner is stating taking responsibility for the behavior tends to neutralize the situation.

• Stonewalling occurs when the partner that is listening to the complaint withdraws from the conversation usually due to being overwhelmed.  This typically occurs in men more than women.  The withdrawing partner can do this is several different ways, actually leaving physically, or psychologically just shutting down.  The shutting down or walking away behavior signals disapproval, distance and self-righteousness.  The antidote to this mechanism is to learn to repair by recognizing when your partner is withdrawing and agreeing to take a time out to utilize stress management to self soothe and come back to this a little later.

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