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The Sound Relationship House: Building a Solid Foundation 

In the intricate world of couples therapy, Drs. John and Julie Gottman have carved a distinctive niche with their evidence-based approach. Central to their research and techniques is the concept of the Sound Relationship House. Like any house that promises shelter and comfort, the Sound Relationship House assures couples a strong relationship foundation if its principles are genuinely embraced. 

Understanding the Sound Relationship House

The Gottmans’ Sound Relationship House model breaks down into seven integral components. These components serve as the bedrock principles that, when combined, lead to lasting and healthy relationships: 

  • Build Love Maps: This is the foundational level. Here, partners are encouraged to know each other’s world inside out—from personal history, worries, hopes, and dreams to the minor details of each other’s daily life. It’s about creating a detailed map of your partner’s life and emotional world. 
  • Share Fondness and Admiration: This level reinforces the affection and respect within the relationship. Regularly expressing appreciation, affection, and respect for each other can make a significant difference in strengthening the bond. 
  • Turn Towards Instead of Away: Instead of avoiding conflict or retreating, this principle urges couples to address concerns and disagreements head-on. By turning towards each other during times of need, couples build a reservoir of positive feelings and trust. 
  • The Positive Perspective: A positive perspective ensures that couples view each other’s intentions and actions in a positive light, leading to a more harmonious relationship. 
  • Manage Conflict: Contrary to the myth that healthy couples don’t fight, the Gottmans emphasize that it’s not about avoiding conflict, but managing it. This involves learning to engage in open dialogues and finding common ground. 
  • Make Life Dreams Come True: Successful couples understand and support each other’s dreams, aspirations, and life goals, fostering an environment where both partners can grow and thrive. 
  • Create Shared Meaning: Beyond the everyday routines, couples are encouraged to build shared rituals, values, and goals that give deeper purpose and meaning to their relationship. 

While the seven components form the floors of the house, the ‘walls’—representing Trust and Commitment—are equally vital. These walls protect the relationship from external challenges and reinforce the bond. Trust ensures safety, while commitment reinforces the promise of a shared future. 

Bringing the Sound Relationship House to Life

To truly benefit from this model, it’s crucial to incorporate real-life exercises into daily routines. For instance, setting aside time each week for uninterrupted conversations or “State of the Union” meetings can help in building Love Maps and managing conflict. Regular date nights, expressing daily words of appreciation, or creating shared rituals can foster fondness, admiration, and shared meaning. 

Several couples have immensely benefited from this model. Consider James and Sarah, who felt a distance growing between them as work and parenting took over. Through sessions based on the Sound Relationship House, they learned to “turn towards” each other, actively engage in building Love Maps, and create shared rituals, like a weekly walk in the park. These seemingly simple activities transformed their relationship from one of growing indifference to one of renewed intimacy and understanding. 

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The Sound Relationship House is not just theoretical—it’s a practical and proven model that has helped countless couples navigate the complex terrains of their relationships. By understanding, embracing, and applying its principles, couples can build a strong, lasting, and fulfilling relationship. 

Reflection Questions:

  • Which floor of the Sound Relationship House do you believe is the strongest in your relationship, and which needs more attention? 
  • How often do you actively engage in building Love Maps with your partner? 
  • Can you identify a recent instance where you “turned towards” rather than away from your partner? 
  • How do the ‘walls’ of Trust and Commitment manifest in your relationship? 
  • What shared rituals or traditions can you introduce or reinforce to give deeper meaning to your relationship? 

If you are interested in getting further support in your relationship, feel free to book an appointment or a 20-minute phone consultation with one of the professionals on our team.  

Resource:

Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (1999). The seven principles for making marriage work. New York: Crown Publishers. 

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