As a Gottman trained therapist I am often comforted by the fact that his 40 years of research shows what I always suspected to be true about what makes for a fulfilling and happy relationship which is:
- Relationships shouldn’t be “this hard”. The couples who are happiest together will have arguments and disagreements but they do it without malice and as much as possible without defensiveness and name calling or stonewalling.
- As Gottman puts it: the goal of couples therapy is not to heal childhood wounds or to be the other persons therapist but rather to have a couple go out for a coffee and not kill each other 🤣. For me, it’s about choosing to spend time with each other because you really want to! As often as possible.
- The definition of true intimacy – which has nothing to do with the physical – is being able to tell your partner what you’re thinking or feeling – knowing it may upset them – but still feeling safe enough to say it because you have agreed it’s better to know and not keep resentments and frustrations underground.
- There IS a right and a wrong way to tell your partner if you’re upset about something – especially if it may be taken as a criticism. No-one enjoys being criticised and most people get defensive. Learning how to soften criticism and release defensiveness is a key element to a long and happy relationship.
- Couples who stay romantically connected and still have a great sex life after ten or even twenty years are affectionate, make time for each other through rituals of connection and will kiss each other for at least 7 seconds EVERYDAY. 😘😲
So, as Gottman says in the quote – he spent 40 years of his life watching couples from all walks of life in every type of relationship from the worst to the best (who he refers to as “the masters”) and his mission was to scientifically research what the Masters do that make for a magical marriage and therefore a wonderful, loving, fulfilling and happy life.