A lot of us know when things are going in the wrong direction.
But how about when they are going in the right direction? How do you know if the relationship is healthy? Is it because we get lovey-dovey and have a lot of sex? Not entirely.
According to the Gottman method, researchers have learned what skills are the right ones to build for couples relationships. Here are the most important ones on how couples interact:
The approach towards conflict is gentle
If you have something you want to bring up, you do it in a civil, gentle way. You have a conversation about it and you introduce it the same way as you would if you were talking about current events. You inform what’s bothering you (make lots of “I” statements) and you totally avoid criticizing the other.
Healthy partners accept influence from one another
It’s not one partner or the other that rules the house and make all decisions. Your partner’s opinion has the same weight as yours.
You compensate for the ugly words
During conflict, you try to say at least 5 positive things for every negative thing you say. Although you may have a difference of opinion, you say (and you mean) that you accept each other for what they think (hard, isn’t i?)
You keep your physiological arousal low
If we feel our head is getting blood flown into or our heart, which is pumping faster, we take a moment to breathe and slow down. If you notice your partner is also getting aroused, you also take a step back and cool things off. Go away for a while, take a walk, do house chores. You will have a lot of energy that you can use in another direction.
You keep control of where the conversation is going
As things escalate, you de-escalate as quickly as possible
You create shared meaning
If you can’t agree with your partner or you don’t like a certain aspect of your partner, you focus on what you can create together that you both like.
Do you or your loved one engage in any of these skills? If you do, that is tremendous.
If you’re not there yet, try to remember to practice one of these skills when you get in an argument. As much difficult as it is to remember, you can practice and get better as you go. Small increments of improvement is what I ask for.
If you are unable to create any of these skills on your own or as a couple, please schedule an appointment with me for a free consultation for a couples session.