Gottman Method For Couples

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated April 30, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

The Gottman method is a therapeutic framework that helps couples explore relationship dynamics, manage conflict, increase positive interactions, reduce perpetual challenges, and deepen their emotional connection. The Gottman Method of couples therapy was developed by John Gottman, a Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington, and his wife, psychologist Julie Gottman, after conducting 40 years of research to understand what it takes for relationships to last. In researching how relationships could achieve longevity in the Love Lab, John and Julie Gottman found that nine components helped couples build and sustain healthy relationships. As a result, they founded the Gottman Institute for Couples Therapy.

John and Julie called the combination of these nine components "The Sound Relationship House." It's a scientific approach that helps couples learn how to remove barriers and work together. Relationships can be challenging because each person is unique. Your perspective may differ from your partner's. The Gottman method shows that couples that disagree can attempt to care about each other's feelings and that empathy can go far in a relationship. Empathy goes a long way in a relationship. This type of couples therapy teaches couples how to communicate effectively and show appreciation. When couples learn this approach, they commit to understanding their partner and their unique relationship dynamic.

How can you create a romantic relationship with lasting power?
The Gottman method's common goals
The Gottman method includes a specific set of goals for all couples, regardless of sexual orientation. The primary areas this type of therapy covers are as follows: 
  • Stop the conflict 
  • Increase positive communication
  • Develop mutual respect
  • Enhance intimacy
  • Promote understanding between each other 
  • Feel a sense of empathy toward one another

Your relationship may grow when you care about your partner's feelings, and they may feel more loved. Showing empathy for yourself and your partner can be essential. When your partner feels like you genuinely care about their feelings, they may reciprocate that care. In addition, having your partner partake in the same methods could help you feel loved and cared for. 

The sound relationship house theory

The sound relationship house theory comprises nine components. Together, the following elements may help you maintain a healthy and fulfilling relationship where you and your partner can feel heard, supported, appreciated, and loved. 

Building relationship love maps

How well do you know your partner internally? Learning each other's history, what makes you each happy, what makes you feel stressed or anxious, how you each hope to receive affection, and your hopes and life dreams can be crucial. This can work to help you create a single meaning in your relationship; what that meaning is will depend on your common goals, values, and a number of other relationship factors. 

Instead of acting contemptuously toward one another, you may learn to focus on admiring and respecting your partner through this form of therapy. When you start the couples therapy, your therapist can help you and your partner build love maps, which are representations of the understanding of each other's inner workings, opinions, ideas, and needs. 


Turning toward them instead of away

According to the Gottman method, it's okay to ask for what you want and need in a relationship. When you're honest with your partner and tell them what you need, you may be more likely to get your needs met and to experience healthy love. Take a moment and think about what you need and ask for it. Connect with your partner. When you choose to turn to communication instead of walking away, you may be able to meet your needs faster. Participating in couples therapy can help you learn to turn toward your partner.

Considering the positive perspective

When you're positive and attempt to solve problems together, it may create a healthy environment for you both to have a fondness in your relationship. Looking at your relationship from a positive perspective can help you repair conflict and react optimistically to adversity rather than assuming the worst. 

Managing conflict

In the Gottman method, couples are taught to manage conflict instead of trying to resolve it. Marital conflicts fall under a category of problems that may not always be solvable in a conventional sense. A resolution may not always be possible, but you can work to disarm conflicting verbal communication and approach issues with a healthier mindset with the help of a certified couples therapist.

Making life's dreams come true

This principle is about creating an environment where each partner can speak candidly about their dreams for the future. They can talk honestly about what they want in life, their aspirations, and their values with each other openly. Each partner may feel heard, understood, and supported in pursuing what makes them happy, according to John and Julie Gottman and their long-term research.

Each person has a unique narrative regarding how they see their life, and they can also have a unique way of understanding their relationships. Respect each other's perceptions because you may not view situations similarly in every circumstance. You can each have a different narrative, with both stories being valid.

Trusting each other

In the Gottman method, trust is the foundation of a romantic relationship, and it happens when both individuals have their partner's best interest at heart. Trust might be gained from actions instead of words. You can demonstrate that you're there for your partner by showing up for them emotionally and remembering their specific love language. Trust can take time, but it is often a component of this type of couples therapy. 

Committing to each other 

Commitment can be a beneficial and essential aspect of relationships, according to studies. You're committed to being together. Commitment may involve respect, admiration, and the choice to continue choosing each other throughout your relationship. Rather than focusing on the negative, you may choose to focus on the positive. You can address problems as a team to maintain an open dialogue and reduce resentment and blame. Through these actions, you can show each other that you're committed to making the relationship loving and healthy. 

How does the Gottman method work?

The Gottman Method is about observing your relationship in real-time with a foundation of love. It focuses on aspects of positive psychology and the power of loving someone. John and Julie Gottman found that negativity can profoundly affect the mind, and they wanted to ensure that couples grew together rather than apart. They saw that happy couples felt more intimate when favorable toward one another.

This approach helps nurture a positive outcome even when there are challenges. Everyone may have individual perspectives in a relationship, but coming together, respecting each other's point of view, and making compromises when necessary can change how they are addressed. Showing each other love can increase feelings of intimacy and connection. 

What to expect in couples counseling

When couples engage in the research-based Gottman method, they start with the therapist providing an assessment. They may then receive feedback on the assessment. The couple and the therapist discuss how often they'll meet for therapy and assign goals to therapy. They decide what areas they'd like to work on, whether conflict management, intimacy, becoming better friends, or repairing past resentment or hurt feelings toward each other. They also focus on preventing a return of past conflicts in the relationship.

Who benefits from the Gottman method?

Deciding to go to couples counseling can be challenging. Couples committed to bettering their relationship may have the best results from counseling. The Gottman method can help couples who want to reconnect with each other when they're feeling distant. It can also support couples who are having difficulty with communication or find themselves in frequent conflict. Some concerns that might be addressed using the Gottman Method can include the following: 

  • Divorce or separation
  • Financial challenges  
  • Communication issues
  • Frequent arguments
  • Emotional distance
  • Intimacy challenges 
  • A lack of trust 
  • Differing love or communication styles 
How can you create a romantic relationship with lasting power?
How to find a couples therapist

A Gottman method couples therapist must have a master's degree or a doctorate and be licensed to practice as a therapist in their state. They must also have training in the Gottman method. Some professionals in the psychological world may know of the Gottman method, but there are specific training levels that a Gottman relationship therapist may go through. This training usually differs from traditional couples therapist training.

To find these providers, consider doing an online search or asking for referrals from other couples. You can also visit the Gottman Referral Network or visit the Gottman Institute's website. The Gottman Institute holds couples retreats for those looking for a short-term getaway to learn about this form of therapy with John and Julie Gottman themselves. 

Alternative counseling options 

If you and your partner decide to go to couples counseling, that can be a brave step. It can be vulnerable to decide to take steps toward remedying a concern in your relationship, and you're not alone. However, if you struggle to find a counselor who accepts your insurance as a couple or offers the Gottman method as formulated by John and Julie Gottman in your area, you might benefit from online counseling. 

Online couples counseling offers a convenient platform to try the Gottman method at an affordable cost. In addition, you can attend online couples therapy from two separate locations. Studies show that online couples therapy can be more effective than in-person options. Couples in one study felt that the video platform they used to talk to their therapist offered a comforting setting and felt they could connect with their therapist as they might in person. 

If you're interested in trying an online form of couples therapy or individual counseling, consider signing up for a platform like BetterHelp for individuals or Regain for couples. Both platforms offer the option to divulge your preferences for the type of therapy you hope to try when you first sign up. In addition, you can get matched with a provider within 48 hours. 


and compassion to help couples manage conflicts and meet their goals in a pressure-free and positive environment. If you're interested in trying this form of therapy, consider reaching out to a provider to get started. 

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