What are the elements for a happy, healthy, and strong relationship? Some people say trust, others say honesty, loyalty, commitment. Well, through countless hours of research, observations, and studies of over 3,000 couples, relationship experts, Julie and John Gottman have developed The Sound Relationship House – 9 building blocks of a relationship that is applicable across culture, ethnicities, religious beliefs, or socio-economic background.
First Floor: Love Maps
The foundation to a long-lasting relationship stands in a firm comprehension of your partner’s psychological world – their needs, values, priorities, stresses, dreams, aspirations, past experiences, grievances etc. Knowledge of our partner’s preferences, likes, dislikes and history allow us to intently be aware of what our partner may be thinking and feeling, a protective factor, which allows our relationships to weather emotional storms, disagreements, and major life transitions.
Second Floor: Fondness and Admiration
Sharing fondness and admiration is the ability to articulate and convey to our partners the big and small reasons why we love and appreciate them. This builds up positive sentiment towards our partner and relationship. As a result, the respect and admiration that we hold prevents betrayal, and thoughts of break-up, separation or divorce every time an argument arises.
Third Floor: Turning Towards instead of Away
This level refers to all the small moments in which we may make a bid for our partner’s attention. This may be as insignificant as, “Hey, isn’t that a pretty flower” to more significant bids like, “I don’t know what to do, I need your help”. When our partner acknowledges our request for their attention – i.e., through a mumbled “yes”, “mmhmm” or even eye contact, this is referred to as turning towards. Research literature indicates that couples whose marriages ended in divorce six years later only turned towards their partners 33% of the time.
Fourth Floor: The Positive Perspective
This floor cannot be directly worked on but relies on a strong foundation in the other floors of the Sound Relationship House. It refers to the overall perception of how we view our partner and relationship – through the past, present, and future. Having a fundamentally positive view of our partner and relationship is a powerful buffer in times of trouble and readily allows us to give our partner the benefit of the doubt.
Fifth Floor: Manage Conflict
All happy and long-lasting relationships have their fair share of disagreements, tiffs, and arguments. The fifth floor does not refer to ridding all relationships of these times, but rather in how to effectively and healthily navigate these conversations so that neither partner feels unheard, unimportant, or attacked.
Sixth Floor: Make Life Dreams Come True
This floor of the Sound Relationship House recognises that most individuals have their own dreams, hopes and aspirations. Lasting relationships have partners who not only encourage us to pursue these goals, but also assist and support us in being able to reach these goals.
Seventh Floor: Create Shared Meaning
The last level of the Sound Relationship House refers to a couple’s continued efforts to create memories, shared rituals, and traditions together. This may be a monthly date night, a weird and whacky birthday celebration or a sentimental Christmas tradition. All these moments are created together and bond partners as a unit.
The Walls: Trust and Commitment
While each floor of the house plays a significant role in the happiness and longevity of each relationship, it would all come crumbling down without commitment from both partners towards a life-long journey of continued effort, and the promise of devotion and care. Trust in your partner that you won’t be easily replaced as soon as someone “better” may come along.
To find out more about the Sound relationship House or other resources for your relationship head to: https://www.gottman.com/ (we love all things Gottman!!!)
If you or someone you know is struggling individually or as a couple, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly reception staff at Your Mind Matters Psychology. Call us on (03) 9809-5947, or send us an email: [email protected]