The Gottman Method for Couple Counseling & Why It’s Effective


The Gottman Method is often considered one of the best couples counseling methods in existence.

But how true could that be?

Is it effective?

If yes, to what extent?

We explore the answers to these questions and more as we journey through the origins and tenets of the Gottman Method


The Gottman Method is a science-based approach to couples counseling. It was developed by Dr. John Gottman and his wife Julie Gottman using the Sound Relationship House theory as the framework. The duo carried out a series of scientific studies where over 3,000 couples from different parts of the world were studied for nearly forty years in a bid to understand what makes relationships and marriages fail or work.

Some of the lessons contained in their approach include conflict management, understanding one’s partner, forgiveness, tolerance, among other things that strengthen a relationship or marriage.

Yes, everyone is considered unique, but according to Dr. Gottman, many couples display behavioral patterns, which are quite similar to their partner’s. He also highlighted some of the key variables which can make or mar a relationship.  .

Dr. Gottman boasted being able to accurately predict whether a relationship will fail or stand the test of time. He believed that the longevity of the union can be determined by observing and analyzing how couples behave when they have a misunderstanding or argument.


At the end of their rigorous study, Dr. John Gottman and his wife, were able to come up with nine distinctive components of healthy relationships, often regarded as the Sound Relationship House Theory. Couples who desire a long-lasting relationship are encouraged to:

  1. Build Love Maps: Couples seek to understand their partner, as to his/her values, feelings, emotions, hopes, worries, aspirations, stresses, among other related inner psychological world.
  2. Express Fondness and Admiration: Learn to appreciate respect, admire, caress, and care for one’s partner irrespective of any differences.
  3. Turn towards instead of away: This is what Gottman referred to as the “Emotional Bank Account.” One should always treat the other with love, concern, and respect. Couples before looking outside for help, should first seek it from their partner and always share their own needs.
  4. Accept Influence: Couples must understand that relationships are give and take. Identify one’s partner’s preferences and learn to compromise and adapt to it as quickly as possible. One should also develop and maintain mutual influence and shun power struggles by all means. This has a way of strengthening a relationship.
  5. Solve Problems: Rather than arguing, couples must learn to solve their problems as soon as possible. Whenever there seems to be a tense disagreement, couples should soothe the situation and opt for constructive dialogue rather than a destructive approach. Both parties must learn to be tolerant of one another’s vulnerabilities and focus on shared concern to strengthen the relationship.
  6. Manage Conflict: The Gottman Method suggests that couples should learn to manage rather than resolve conflict. Conflict is considered to be natural and unavoidable in a relationship. As such, it cannot be eradicated. Additionally, the method suggests that conflict management isn’t effective until both partners can understand, tolerate, respect, and show concern for one another.
  7. Create Shared Meaning: The couple should see their relationship as a channel through which they can improve their lives and remain committed to the relationship’s growth. They should also learn to relate together and see themselves having a happy, long-lasting union.
  8. Trust: Couples should never display any sign of selfishness in their relationship; it has destroyed many homes. Instead, they should let their partner have a feeling that they are in support of the other’s interests and benefits.
  9. Commitment: The couple should bear in mind that their relationship is a lifelong journey. Should the relationship fall apart, they should not consider a divorce yet, rather they should both have a heart-to-heart discussion as to how to make it work and last forever.


Dr. Gottman pinpoints four negative factors (the Four Horseman) which contribute largely to the failure of most relationships and marriages. These include:

  1. Criticism: criticizing or attacking one’s partner’s character and personality
  2. Defensiveness: when a criticized partner tries to shift blame, make excuses for a misdeed, or refuse to take responsibility, may further result in a heated argument or even physical assault
  3. Stonewalling: when either or both parties refuse to respond or interact with one another
  4. Contempt: making the partner feel worthless or inferior


The Gottman Method is considered more effective than many other couples counseling therapy, and this is due in part to the following benefits.

The method is applicable to couples from different parts of the world, regardless of their ages, cultures, races, and beliefs.

The method also proffers dependable solutions to typical relationship and marriage-related issues, including poor communication, frequent conflict, infidelity, financial impotence, poor parenting, emotional disorder, and more.

The Gottman Method is not only for couples facing problems in their relationship, as it is also relevant for those with a healthy, happy relationships. The Gottman Method helps teach anyone how to manage conflicts better as well as how to understand, relate to, respect, and tolerate one another.

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