Gottman’s couples counselling won’t create a CONFLICT-FREE marriage. It will, however, create a SAFE-CONFLICT marriage.

Ok, I know what you are thinking, “Good marriage counselling will eliminate arguing and conflict from my marriage”.

Well, the truth is, conflict is totally normal and arguing can be healthy, depending on how you do it. ALL RELATIONSHIPS HAVE CONFLICT.  The nature of arguing brings up tough emotions and depending on how you react to those emotions, an argument can be a learning experience or emotionally devastating.

First you have to realize that you are two different people with unique histories that will impact how certain issues affect you. Your childhood and how you were raised will determine what types of feelings trigger you. For example, you might react badly to feeling excluded because your parents didn’t include you in important family decisions. So when your partner makes an important decision without you, it brings up that old feeling and you have a hard time controlling your emotions. Through counselling you can come to understand what yours and your partners triggers are and be more cognizant of them when bringing up certain issues.

Second, avoid Gottman’s four horsemen: criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling. Any one of these behaviours will shut down all communication and prevent a thoughtful discussion and resolution. The problem is that you might be unconsciously engaging in these behaviours.  Gottman relationship counselling can reveal where you are using one (or more!) of the four horsemen and help you to find other ways to communicate.

Third, avoid statements like, “YOU don’t do this,” and opt for “I need you to do this”. Then listen to your partner’s response and try to understand their perspective. Finally, you want to end the argument on a positive note, so review your behaviour and apologize for anything you said during the argument or in the past that might have caused your partner pain. In therapy sessions you will discuss the 6 parts of an argument and how to move through each step, mindful of both yours and your partner’s needs.  This resolves, rather than escalates conflict.

I base my couples counselling on the principals of John Gottman, who has worked with and studied over 3000 couples to develop a counselling approach to support, repair and strengthen committed relationships. 

Check out this video of John Gottman discussing four negative patters that predict divorce.