Gottman Method Couples Therapy in NYC

What Happy Couples Know

Happy couples know the details of each other's lives

Happy couples know the details of each other's lives

Do you know the intimate details of your partner's life? Do you know what he or she likes and dislikes, and what makes him or her happy and sad? What are his or her favorite movies, music, television programs, books, and activities? What about his or her work life: do you know about his or her coworkers and the name of his or her boss? If you know the answers to these questions accurately, you have made space for your partner in your life, and your marriage or love relationship is most likely in a good place.

The small things in your daily life are where you will notice your partner. For instance, when you're at a restaurant and the waiter asks what your partner wants, you have a good chance of being able to answer his or her top choices on the menu. You're more likely to record his or her favorite program on the DVR because you know he or she would enjoy watching it together. You have a connection when you know each other's goals in life, what you're both afraid of, and what you're both striving to achieve.

If you don't know the answers to these questions, what state is your marriage or love relationship in? Most likely, you're feeling distant from each other. Your love may not be as strong as it once was. Perhaps an injury has occurred that stopped you from making the effort to update your partner's likes and dislikes. Maybe you tried to be there for your partner, but suddenly realized that he or she wasn't there for you.

Do you have "Date Night" with your partner or spouse every week?

Do you have "Date Night" with your partner or spouse every week?

Knowing the intimate details about each other's lives is a sign of a strong, healthy bond in a marriage or love relationship, and it helps you cope much more effectively with the predictable and unpredictable stressors in life that we all face. But the couples who are healthy and happy together weren't born with a supernatural gift for being in relationships. Most likely, the purposely are doing things that unhealthy couples either stop doing, or never got into a habit of doing from the beginning. 

Healthy couples make it a habit to talk about their deepest hopes, desires, and fears. Regardless of how busy they are in their lives, they take the time to make each other a priority. At least once a week, they go out for "date night," and instead of sitting at a restaurant across from each other in silence, they're engaging with each other and sharing each other's lives together. The more you know and understand about your partner or spouse, the more likely your marriage or love relationship will stay on track and will grow even stronger. It isn't enough just to know each other. You need to use what you know about your partner or spouse to help build your love for each other to help make each other's dreams become realities.

Share Your Experiences

Do you have a pattern as a couple that helps you stay close and up-to-date on each other's lives? Do you sometimes feel lonely, like your partner doesn't really care about what is happening in your day-to-day life? Share what works and what is hard in your relationship. If you found this message helpful, share it with a friend or family member by clicking the share button below.

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Is a Ghost from the Past Haunting Your Marriage or Love Relationship?

Ghosts from the past can be unwelcome intruders in your marriage or love relationship

Ghosts from the past can be unwelcome intruders in your marriage or love relationship

Are you or your partner or spouse experiencing symptoms in your marriage or love relationship that could be related to a history of trauma? A common dialogue between a couple where one partner has a history of trauma might go like this:

Chris: Don't you dare come up from behind me and grab me like that again! I can't stand that, and you did it anyway.

Pat: What? Are you serious? I just came up and gave you a love squeeze. Why are you freaking out so much? You're impossible. I don't want to be with someone who is so cold and frigid. Ice queen... that is who you are.

Trauma is like a ghost from the past, an unwelcome intruder that many times can be strongly affecting a relationship without either partner seeing it. With a keen awareness, you'll notice these ghots come up through specific symptoms that may include a partner or spouse re-living the past trauma without knowing the partner is going through a trance into the past, numbing and detaching after being exposed to the thing that reminds him or her of the trauma, avoiding situations that are somehow linked to the trauma (a common source of sexual problems in a marriage or love relationship), being hypervigilant around the cue of the trauma, and experiencing irritability when something is connecting with the trauma.

When a trauma survivor is able to turn to his or her partner or spouse and ask to be held and comforted during a flashback, rather that to detach or hurt himself or herself, a new trust and sense of hope can emerge for the survivor.

Traumas involving key caregivers are "violations of human connection" (Herman, 1992). More than anyone else, your partner or spouse has the ability to help you heal from past relationship traumas. A partner or spouse can have the most effective healing power over past traumas for the person who has experienced past relationship betrayals and abuse. Partners or spouses can become healers.

If you are in a safe and secure marriage or love relationship, your immune system is more likely to be functioning well, and your ability to cope during stressful life events is significantly increased. In a distressed marriage or love relationship, both partners in the couple likely experience more depression and anxiety symptoms. The sense of community usually decreases in a distressed relationship, so your body needs the help of your partner or spouse even more.

In a secure connection, you are able to face your fears and maintain a strength that helps you cope, regardless of the stress. If you feel isolated and alienated from the larger world, you are much more vulnerable to outside dangers.

When you or your partner or spouse have been subjected to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, your health may be impacted in each of those areas. Re-experiencing physical sensations can be effectively treated through exposure therapy, known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Relationship symptoms do not respond in the same way to CBT, but are much more likely to respond to relationship therapy when a partner or spouse can serve as a source of comfort and safety. It is a partner or spouse that lies next to the survivor of trauma in the middle of the night, a time when anxiety is often peaking, as memories are being processed in the mind. If a partner or spouse doesn't know how to respond in key moments when threat is perceived, he or she may become part of the problem instead of offering key elements of healing.

At the Loving at Your Best Plan, the therapist works to address the symptoms of the trauma, and much more. A focus is to help create a safe and secure emotional bond between the couple in the marriage or love relationship, a connection that promotes safety and calms danger and threat. A history of trauma intensifies the need for a safe connection, and trust is the basis for a secure relationship.

Relationships where one or both partners have trauma in their histories are more likely to have intense negative patterns of interacting with each other, and without an effective intervention, these patterns can kill the relationship. Therapists at the Loving at Your Best Plan integrate top-rated interventions for couples with difficult and challenging histories, especially trauma. These therapies include schema therapy, emotionally focused therapy, Interpersonal Neurobiology, and Gottman Method Couples Therapy.

Do you or the person that you love have a history that includes trauma on an emotional, physical, or sexual level? If so, have you found ways to effectively navigate the symptoms in your marriage or love relationship in NYC? Share your thoughts.

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Source: Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy with Trauma Survivors: Strengthening Attachment Bonds by Sue Johnson, PhD.

 

The Loving at Your Best Plan: It's How You Love That Counts

The Loving at Your Best Plan: It's How You Love That Counts

Have You Checked In With Your Partner or Spouse Today?

Do you and your partner or spouse find it easy to talk to each other, even about the smallest things in your lives? If so, you’re most likely in a healthy place in your marriage or relationship. If not, this can be a warning sign that you may be disconnected from each other, a danger sign that can lead to separation or divorce, without making a change in your relationship. Especially in today’s world of constant distractions, it is easy for all of us to focus on the inbox of our emails instead of stopping to take the time to connect with our partner or spouse, even in small ways.

A simple example of how you want things to could be that when you ask your partner or spouse if you need more soap for the bathroom, she or he responds by saying, “I’m not sure, but I’ll grab some anyway.” This is a moment when your partner anticipates your needs, reinforcing your belief that he or she is there for you. This may seem like a small, unimportant moment, though the reality is, this can be a sign of a relationship thriving, or of a relationship in serious distress.

Even a Text Can Make a Difference

If you know your spouse or partner has a stressful day coming up at work, do you pause and take a moment during the day to either text him or her, or better yet leave a voicemail to let him or her know that you’re thinking of him or her, and expressing words of support? If you do this, you are choosing to support your marriage or relationship in a way that strengthens your emotional connection.

When you try to engage with your partner every day, even in small ways, you’ll keep your marriage or relationship strong, and be more likely to weather storms between the two of you. When you’re not engaging in these small moments, most likely it is either because you’re simply not thinking about it, getting distracted by something, or because your partner or spouse has hurt you, and you’re distancing yourself from him or her to not get hurt more.

Do You Have a Relationship Injury that Needs to Be Healed?

 

Part of the work we do with marriage and couples counseling and therapy in NYC at the Loving at Your Best Plan is to help couples who have experienced significant loss or betrayal with each other work through these injuries and help them heal the wounds. Engaging in emotionally focused therapy with a schema therapy foundation, we help identify the sensitivities in relationships and give couples a way to feel safe with each other again, rebuilding trust in the marriage or relationship. When these injuries heal, couples find it much easier to engage in these small moments with each other that help you know that you’re not alone in the world—that your partner or spouse has your back.

4 Steps to Help Your Marriage or Relationship

  1. Every day, create moments with your partner or spouse to engage with him or her, even in small ways
  2. Know the signs of a healthy relationship: happy couples notice almost all of the positive things their partner or spouse does for them, while unhappy couples underestimate their partner’s thoughtfulness by 50%, according to John Gottman, PhD of the Gottman Institute, the creator of Gottman Method Couples Therapy.
  3. Tell your partner or spouse at least 5 things you would like to have in your relationship to feel closer to him or her
  4. Help each other to meet each other’s requests

Share Your Experiences

Have you found that it is hard to engage with your partner or spouse in small ways? Do you know what is getting in your way? Have you been able to work through this challenge, and improve your emotional connection? Share your experiences in the comment section. 

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One Key to Succeed at Having a Miserable Relationship

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Who makes the decisions in your marriage or relationship? Do you honor and respect each others’ feelings and opinions? Do you or your partner or spouse feel more like a passenger than a driver? Especially with men, if they allow women to influence them, their relationships are much happier and much less likely to lead to separation or divorce. Probably because of a mix of factors, including socialization and perhaps biological differences, women usually allow their partners to influence them, even when their relationship is in distress. It doesn’t mean that both women and men can't get stuck in negative patterns together, but it is much more likely that women will take their partner’s feelings and opinions into account. In unhealthy marriages or relationships, it’s much more difficult for men to do the same.

Do You Have to Lose Yourself in Your Relationship?

Accepting influence from your partner or spouse doesn’t mean giving up your own opinions or feelings. A key factor is to respect your partner or spouse, and share decision making with each other as equally as possible. Even when you disagree, search for common ground and try to understand the emotions and most importantly the meaning behind what your partner or spouse feels or thinks.

A challenge in male/female relationships is that men can easily escalate negativity in the relationship, instead of matching or decreasing the negativity. Usually this occurs through what John Gottman calls the four horsemen that destroy relationships: criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling. When even one of the four horsemen occurs, most likely influence is being pushed away. If you use one of the horsemen to increase negativity between you and your partner or spouse, you are significantly increasing the likelihood that your marriage or relationship could end in disaster without an intervention, such as marriage and couples counseling and therapy.

What to Remember

  • If you resist influence from your partner or spouse, you are four times more likely to have an unhappy marriage or relationship
  • If you accept influence from your partner or spouse, he or she is much more likely to not be critical or contemptuous toward you when a conflict occurs
  • When you accept influence, you’re much more likely to feel a deeper emotional connection with each other
  • If you feel you are always right, you’re much more likely to have a contemptuous attitude toward your partner or spouse
  • The more influence you’re willing to accept from your partner or spouse, the more influence he or she will accept from you

You can read more about accepting influence from your partner or spouse in John Gottman’s “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.” Gottman Method Couples Therapy is part of the Loving at Your Best Plan for marriage and couples counseling and therapy in NYC.

Share Your Experience

Do you find it challenging to accept influence from your partner or spouse? Do certain issues in your marriage or relationship occur that are so upsetting that it’s hard to yield and see what the meaning of the issues are for your partner or spouse? Have you worked through some of these challenges in your relationship, and found some resources to help you succeed? Are the roles reversed in your relationship, where the female partner can sometimes find it challenging to accept influence? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

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3 Ways to Be a Master in Your Marriage or Relationship

Are You a Master in Your Marriage or Relationship?

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Is it easy for you and your spouse or partner to talk to each other, even about what may seem like simple things? If it is, chances are, your marriage or relationship is in a good place, and your connection is strong. If this is not the case, these little moments of silence, like a couple sitting together at a restaurant and starring at their food, may be signs of some stress or tension in your marriage or relationship. If these signs aren't addressed, the result may grow into a snowball effect that ends up tearing many couples apart.

Every day, you and your partner or spouse make efforts to connect with each other, what John Gottman, the creator of Gottman Method Couples Therapy and the author of the newly released "What Makes Love Last" describes as “bids” for connection. Gottman and his colleagues viewed thousands of couples to see what the masters of relationships, couples who stay together and genuinely love being together, were doing to maintain the strength of their relationships. He also recognized the patterns of couples who ended up in disaster, breaking up or staying together miserably. 

How Can You Help Save Your Relationship?

If you and your spouse or partner are aware of these “bids” for connection, and purposefully respond in a way that both recognizes and accepts each others’ efforts, you’ll likely thrive in your relationship together. Three steps we address in the Loving at Your Best Plan of marriage and couples counseling and therapy in NYC are:

  1. Be aware of making “bids” yourself, and when your partner or spouse is doing the same
  2. Recognize what you need, and invite your partner or spouse to tell you what he or she needs
  3. After you share what you really want with each other, commit to making these dreams realities

 

Share Your Experiences

What do you enjoy doing most with your partner or spouse in your relationship? Are there challenges you face where what you both want seems to be at odds? Share your experiences with us, and share this post to friends or family who you think may find the information helpful.