Dr. John Gottman’s empirically-based theory, the Sound Relationship House, describes what couples in the good healthy relationships do and have. They have built their relationship foundation by building their love maps, they share fondness and admiration, they turn towards each other instead of away, they maintain a positive perspective, know how to manage conflict, they make life dreams come true, they create shared meaning all within the walls of trust and commitment. So what does all of this actually mean?
It means they are good friends that know what is going on in each other’s world. They maintain awareness of what is happening both within the relationship and outside of it. They share fondness and admiration's for each other and make regular deposits into their Emotional Bank Account. They can easily express appreciation and respect.
Both partners can communicate their needs and turn towards one another instead of away. Meaning both partners recognize and accept bids for connection and respond to them by turning towards their partner. This is where the little things in life count because they are actually the building blocks of the relationship.
Healthy relationships maintain a positive perspective which happens when the friendship within the relationship is strong. This helps them to manage conflict more constructively. Which means they can arrive at mutual understanding and find compromises that actually work. They also know how to kiss and make up. They have the ability to repair effectively when they hurt one another.
Healthy couples will accept influence from their partner and are open to compromise. They can discuss problems openly and take turns listening to one another regarding perpetual issues. Both partners know how to practice self soothing and try to remain calm during difficult discussions.
Healthy couples honor each other’s dreams and even try to find ways to help make them come true. They create an environment that encourages honest conversations about each partner’s hopes, dream, aspiration, and goals.
Healthy couples take it one step further and create shared meaning in the relationship by building a sense of purpose. This where we see an alignment of values, beliefs, rituals, ethics and goals.
Healthy couples will have a satisfying sex life. Keep in mind the key word here is satisfying which is subjective. What is satisfactory for one couple may not be satisfactory for another.
Healthy couples are fully committed to one another and there is a solid wall of trust. They have taken the time to make trust and commitment a priority in the relationship. They each will always act to maximize their partner’s well being. They are so committed each partner knows the other partner has their back no matter what!
When we have frequent thoughts and acts that cherish our partner’s positive qualities and minimize our focus on negative faults and avoid negative comparisons it helps to build trust, love, and loyalty in our relationship.
Expect that. You deserve it. It’s not unreasonable, and it’s achievable. However, you must put in the work!
Curious how your relationship stacks up? The Gottman Relationship Checkup is a great way to get a very detailed overview of your relationship, as well as a detailed roadmap of where to begin focusing your efforts to improve your relationship.
Life is Change. Growth is Optional. Choose Wisely.
p.s. Want to make an average relationship great? A troubled relationship better? Join me in October at The Seven Principles 2 Day Couples Workshop!