Sometimes “When” Is Just As Important As “What” Part 1 of this two-part series, focused on a core finding in …
Some years ago a couple was working with had been struggling with arguing and bickering. We identified and had been working with the patterns of the Four Horsemen in their interactions. They had some successes, but struggled with relapsing into old patterns of blame and criticism. In our last session they reported that they had made a breakthrough in their relationship. I waited with anxious anticipation after asking them what made the difference? I thought to myself, what did I do or say that made the difference? What tool did I give them that helped them to manage their conflicts? One can never tell for sure what things seem to click.
This is the core of intimacy, partners feeling seen and accepted for who they are, and each knowing what is important to the other. My initial confusion as a Gottman therapist about the Meaning component gave way to a simple awareness about the importance of partners communicating love by asking and listening to the right questions.
Most people familiar with the Drs. John and Julie’s Gottman research on divorce prediction and prevention are likely to have heard of the Four Horsemen. These are the pervasive negative and destructive interactions that are known to predict divorce and relationship dissatisfaction. However, there is much more to the story on those predictors.
I recently created a video, The Smallest Units of Intimacy, describing “bids” as any attempt a partner makes to try to connect with their partner. It could be a bid for time, for connection, for support, for humor, and so on. How partners typically respond to bids is highly predictive stability and happiness in the relationship.
We have learned from research the fastest and most effective way to build trust in a relationship. Before getting to the bottom line on building trust, let’s set the stage. You may have heard the expression, “Relationships are complex”. I imagine most people would agree with that statement. In any relationship there are inevitably going to be times when partners feel confused about what just happened in an interaction that went south.
My boyfriend and I rarely fight — and when we do, it seems to always come back to the same issue. I’m a more social person than he is. I like to go to occasional parties together and sometimes host friends at our place. He never wants to go to parties and and doesn’t like to host. We’ve spoken about it, but it continues to come up and be an issue, especially when I ask him to go to parties with me and he refuses. How do I keep this argument from resurfacing?
The original Gottman Love Lab first opened in 1986 at the University of Washington. The new Love Lab recently opened, …