Build Love Maps-the process of really knowing your partner, their concerns, hopes and dreams. Ask them open-ended questions! (He says this is a very rare event in couples).
Share Fondness and Admiration-Masters of marriage really notice small events that are pleasing, and communicate respect, admiration, and fondness to their partner, e.g. “I really enjoyed talking to you at dinner,” “thanks for doing the laundry” etc. These partners scan the environment for things to share. “Disasters” of marriage look for their partner’s mistakes, and hope that by making comments on what they’re doing wrong, they can help their partner be a better human being. He said his wife would not respond to his criticism by saying, “You know John, you are such a wise person, thank you for telling me all the ways I’m failing as a human being.”
Turn Towards Instead of Away
-this is responding to the way your partner expresses needs/their bids for attention. For example, if your spouse comments on something–no matter how small–you should respond kindly. Stable couples turn towards 86% of the time. Divorcing couples about 33%.
These first three levels of the house make repair work in relationships. If this is done, more humor and positive affect will occur during arguments. Laughter puts people in “what’s this mode” in a discussion rather than “what the hell is this mode.” If you build these first three levels, you will have more positive affect during conflict. It also leads to good sex and romance. He talked about many husbands who are not doing any of these first 3 levels of the house, and then they try to do something like give their wife a golden locket with their picture in it – “is she going to like it?” or do you think she’ll say “John, I love it! let’s have sex!” – probably not.
The Positive Perspective-this is positive sentiment override (vs. negative-an overall negative evaluation of your partner and the relationship. See them more as an adversary than an ally. They view even neutral or positive events as negative).
Manage Conflict-69% of the time, couples are fighting about the same stuff, in the same way. Relationships work when you select someone to have a relationship with whose unsolved problems you can live with. They can be about punctuality, neatness, commitment, finances, or anything. Hidden agendas emerge as these are discussed. A couple may be talking about money, but underneath is the problem of what money means. Masters of marriage establish a dialogue about these issues. The goal in therapy is not to resolve these problems, but to get people to cope with them better. Partners must constantly adapt to one another’s needs… Masters of marriage have a gentle approach to conflict – they accept influence, use humor, etc. Two things must be recognized: most conflicts are perpetual-each person’s position has an existential meaning that has to be examined, and both partners must have a gentle approach to the conflict.
Make Life Dreams Come True-know your partner’s life dreams, and work together to accomplish them.
Create Shared Meaning-build a sense of culture and meaning, including parts of society, church, children, basically creating a new culture from two separate families.
Some final thoughts:
- He suggested couples do “the 6 second kiss upon reunion” Then he counted out 6 seconds, and smiled and said, “that’s a kiss that has possibilities” lol.
- Many people say they want this written on their tombstone: “He lived every day like it was his last.” Gottman wants this on his tombstone: “He lived life, as if every moment he was about to eat a pastry.”
- With the bottom level (love maps) and the top (shared meaning) so related, “maybe it shouldn’t be called ‘The Sound Relationship House’ but instead, ‘The sound relationship bagel.’ I don’t take myself very seriously.”
“And that’s everything I know, so far.”