Doctors John and Julie Gottman have spent their entire careers helping couples and individuals build strong, sound relationships. One of the tools they use to aid in the journey is what is referred to like The Sound Relationship House Theory.
This theory poses that when you build your relationship on a strong foundation your partnership will be able withstand any trial and tribulation.
Understanding the Sound Relationship House: Floor by Floor
The Sound Relationship House builds your relationship starting at the base. A strong foundation helps to support the upper floors as you move through the house. Building a solid relationship that will last.
Build Love Maps – Your Foundation
Consider your love map as an open book to your most personal thoughts, feelings, desires, and interests. A strong relationship comes when you openly share and navigate each of your maps together. You become a master when you feel known by your partner and you know their love map as well.
Share Fondness and Admiration – Deposit into the Emotional Bank Account
Your initial and early draw to your partner can only be allowed to grow when it is fed with further acts of love and admiration. You can share your love together by remembering to recognize what you love and admire about each and share that with your partner often.
Turn Towards Instead of Away – Bids for Connection
As busy individuals, it can easily become a bad habit to not lay our burdens on our partners. What Gottman and others propose is that in these times we are more successful when we choose to turn to our partner instead of keeping those burdens to ourselves. Strong relationships are formed when partners join together and face life’s challenges as a single unit or team. The “Us against the world” mentality keeps the focus on the importance of the primary relationship above all else. When your partner turns to you, turn back and emotionally connect.
The Positive Perspective – Build Up NOT Down
Your partner should be your best friend; the one person you share all of your hopes and dreams with, as well as, cling to when you face life’s struggles. Building your relationship to be a strong friendship and force of positive in your life. When the previous three levels are in good shape, there tends to be a positive perspective on the relationship and also a willingness to give your partner the benefit of the doubt.
Manage Conflict – Weathering the Storms Together
Resolving conflict is where a lot of couples have trouble. Couples Counseling can help you practice how to do conflict resolution. It’s important to realize rather than going in circles that listening to each other’s perspective (not necessarily agreeing with it or fighting the facts), recognizing what triggers are being activated, apologizing for your part and working on how to do things differently in the future without fighting again but rather processing the fight is the way to resolve.
Make Life Dreams Come True
Celebrate your partners' successes and accomplishments as if they are your own. In reality, every one of your partner’s successes will only better your relationship. Another part of this “floor” of the relationship house is to support the dreams and goals of each other. Sometimes, this may be the hardest part, especially when one partner has a dream or goal that appears to conflict with yours. When these come up, focusing on managing the conflict and communicating your feelings effectively will help you come to a compromise that will include the feelings, emotions, and journey of each partner.
Create Shared Meaning
The focus on compromise mentioned above helps you to work with your partner to create a shared and meaningful path for your relationship and life. No two people start with the same ideas and feelings about things, such as parenting, success, politics, and more. Over time, successful relationships usually find areas where they can agree and focus on them.
While strong relationships can definitely be found in people with very different views on some topics, in general, most of the major life decisions and attitudes will usually involve a bit of compromise where the partners have given a little to come to a shared idea.
Building Trust, Love, and Loyalty
The floors proposed in the Sound Relationship House requires action. A strong relationship does not just happen, rather takes work and years of communication focused on building trust, love, and loyalty. Here are 5 ways that Gottman offers to build these important parts of a sound relationship:
1. Make Trust the primary goal, both trusting your partner and being trustworthy
2. Take action to help your partner
3. Build trust in small amounts – it’s the little things that matter most
4. Avoid negative tapes (these are the comparisons, feelings, and emotions that we get stuck repeating)
5. Regularly give thoughts and actions that show your partner how important they are, focusing on the positive aspects and minimizing negative thoughts and actions. Be their biggest cheerleader.
For more information on the Sound Relationship House Theory, check out The Gottman Institute.