Building a Better Relationship through Couples Therapy

“Perfection is not the price of love. Practice is. We practice how to express our love and how to receive our partner’s love. Love is an action even more than a feeling. It requires intention and attention, a practice we call attunement,” Dr. John Gottman said. 

Willingness to improve your relationship can take you one step toward being happy again. Simple compliments or asking a partner questions about their day can remind them of the appreciation you feel for them. Couples can benefit from therapy by learning how to talk to each other and mend a broken relationship.

Ask an Expert 

John Gottman, Ph.D., is an American psychologist with 50 years of research experience working with couples to understand the complexities of relationships better. The Gottman Method of Couples Therapy focuses on solving conflicts, improving communication, and developing intimacy, respect, and affection. The method goes on to examine problems such as barriers and the inner workings of relationships. 

Gottman discusses several key points about relationships in the YouTube video “Making Marriage Work.” He uses the term “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” to describe criticism, defensiveness, disrespect and stonewalling. Gottman says that these are indicative of failing relationships that often lead to divorce.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:

  1. Criticism – When judging or suggesting that something is wrong with your partner. Using words such as “you always” or “you never” when speaking to them. This can lead to your partner feeling attacked. 
  2. Defensiveness – Stems from a negative attack and counterattack in a relationship. This keeps the person from taking responsibility and escalates the situation.
  3. Disrespect – This stems for negative verbal comments such as mocking, sneering, or calling names. This shows lack of appreciation.  
  4. Stonewalling – When a partner chooses to close their form of communication and build a wall without response or ignore their partner. 

Gottman refers to “love maps” which describe the inner workings of a partner. The love maps can be used to better understand each other by asking open-ended questions. Gottman reiterates the importance of respect and appreciation which he called fondness and admiration. Couples that are present and notice small acts of intimacy instead of ignoring them feel more gratification in their relationships. 

“You can spend a lifetime being curious about the inner world of your partner, and being brave enough to share your own inner world, and never be done discovering all there is to know about each other. It’s exciting,” Gottman said. 

Why couples seek help

Couples may not understand the need or reason for considering therapy to improve their relationships. Therapists can help discover deep rooted issues to help find solutions. From there, both individuals can work on fixing the issues they are struggling with. 

The 10 Most Common Reasons to Couples Seek Couples Therapy:

  1. Improving communication and working through conflicts by problem-solving 
  2. Understand the importance of showing each other affection 
  3. Problems with depression, anxiety, and anger
  4. Faced with the struggle of financial problems 
  5. Asking for divorce or help when considering the decision
  6. Children and parenting relationships
  7. Sex, romance, and intimacy
  8. Infidelity and rebuilding trust
  9. Medical problems and aging
  10. The balance between a successful career and a relationship 

Problems couples face in relationships

Communication. Communication skills are important to understanding and working with your partner. Making slight adjustments to the way you speak to one another can help foster deeper emotional connections. This also prevents negative feelings of rejection or hurt.

Honest communication in relationships can allow couples to open up to each other about fears, wishes, and emotions. Listening to your partner and responding without accusatory remarks can lead to more positive feelings and benefits relationships. 

Conflicts. Facing disagreements and arguments are inevitable in a relationship. Understanding how to resolve these conflicts and use communication skills can help couples to manage daily life challenges. Conflict resolution provides different ways to fix common causes of disputes.

Divorce. When a failing relationship is ending in divorce the repercussions can be devastating. Separation can be merited for many different reasons. A therapist can address the thoughts and feelings one may have about ending a marriage. Suggestions for coping with separation include avoiding power struggles and maintaining routines. 

Parenting. Couples can encounter parenting problems while raising children and maintaining a family. Struggles with adapting to each other’s parenting styles can cause an imbalance that can adversely affect the children. Issues with discipline, expectations, and neglect can cause disagreements among parents. Therapists can help couples find common ground. 

Sex. Romance and intimacy. Lack of romance and intimacy in a relationship can also lead to negative consequences. Having sex is an important component of a relationship. Couples often run into problems such as one person feeling less interested in having sex or another wanting to have sex more frequently. Therapists can help to address changes in couples’ sex lives to restore passion and intimacy.

Anxiety and Depression. In some cases, anxiety and depression can cause problems in a relationship. These emotions can create challenges for couples that can lead to less attention and irritability. A qualified therapist can help you determine if depression and anxiety are inferring in your relationship. 

Infidelity. Infidelity can cause partners to lose trust leaving them with questions about what to do next. This leaves partners dealing with betrayal and doubt. Often they need help to regain that trust if they are to salvage the relationship. 

Make an appointment

Reaching out to a therapist can provide more information about the problems in a relationship. They can help determine the deep-rooted issues causing problems and work with couples to find common ground and solutions to improve their lives. 

The team at June Health can work with clients in need of someone to listen fairly to both individuals and help improve communication skills. A qualified therapist is trained to help couples deal with disagreements, improve communication, and restore passion to their relationships.

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