Gottman Marital Model

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Week 11-Gottman’s Approach to Couple’s Therapy : 

Week 11-Gottman’s Approach to Couple’s Therapy Family Counseling MHS 6430 Dr. Joan Katz

What Has Gottman Found? : 

What Has Gottman Found? After over 30 years of research on couples he….. States that he can tell which couples are likely to divorce after only 10 minutes of talking/watching videotape conversation. Claims approximately 90% accuracy Also claims 81% accuracy in predicting which newlywed couples will remain married after 7-9 years

How Can He DO That??? : 

How Can He DO That??? Asks “How did you meet?” Looks for “4 Horsemen” Looks for “Bids for Connection” and “Repair Attempts.”

Gottman’s Work : 

Gottman’s Work Research Method “Love Lab” Have couples come in, collect physiological data and videotape an argument. “Love Condo” Have couples move in for 24 hours and be videotaped in a naturalistic setting.

Findings: : 

Findings: At first, seemingly nothing! Then… “We have discovered the elementary constituents of closeness between people, and we have learned the basic principle that regulates how relationships work and also determines a great deal about how conflict between people can be regulated. That basic idea has to do with the way people, in mundane moments of everyday life, make attempts at emotional communication, and how others around them respond, or fail to respond to these attempts.” (Gottman & DeClaire, 2001, p. xi).

Gottman’s “Sound Marital House” Model : 

Gottman’s “Sound Marital House” Model Creating Shared Meaning: Rituals of connection-roles, goals, symbols (culture) Making Dreams & Aspirations Come True Dialogue with Perpetual Problems Effective Problem Solving of solvable problems Physiological Soothing Positive Sentiment Override Turning Toward vs Turning Away (the emotional bank account) Fondness & Admiration System Cognitive Room (Love Maps)

Gottman’s 4 Findings : 

Gottman’s 4 Findings Positivity in happy couples is 20:1, in conflicted couples is 5:1. Watching a couple when they’re not in conflict is the best way to predict their risk for divorce Marriages tend to end at one of 2 times-5-7 years (due to high conflict) or 10-20 years (due to the loss of intimacy & connection)

More Findings… : 

More Findings… 3. When it comes to arguments, the type of person one partners with (attacker, soother, avoider) is not so important as the mismatch between the couple (soothers overwhelm avoiders and you get the distancer/pursuer dynamic; soothers and attackers have little ability to influence each other, little positive sentiment, and a great deal of emotional tension; avoiders and attackers are the worst pairing, with severe distancer/pursuer dynamic 4. Most problematic issues (69% in fact) don’t get solved, they get managed

Two Kinds of Marriage States : 

Two Kinds of Marriage States Positive Sentiment Override (PSO)-positive comments and behaviors outweigh the negative ones 20:1. This makes for a positive filter that alters how couples remember past events and view their new issues PSO is built on a few basic premises

Conflict is marked by : 

Conflict is marked by Softened startups-tactful ways to bring up a problem Soothed physiology during the argument so nobody gets emotionally overheated Acceptance of influence, so partners (typically men) can accept the desires and wishes of their partners (typically women) Repair attempts or efforts to make up by using humor or conceding a point (about 1 every 3 minutes for most couples) De-escalation of hot emotions & efforts to compromise Bids for affection or efforts to connect through a shared joke, a quick kiss, or a quiet smile that is returned Gridlock on problems is avoided by finding the underlying reason for the conflict and finding a way to meet both partner’s needs

Second Marriage State : 

Second Marriage State 2. Negative Sentiment Override (NSO)-negative comments and behaviors almost equal the positive ones, with 5 or fewer positive comments for every negative one. Couples showing about one positive for one negative are on the path to divorce. This means that there is a negative filter that screens out the few positive events that exist, and may cause the couple to “rewrite” their history together. Ask them what drew them together and listen for the negative emotional tone to see this. You cannot confront NSO directly; rather, you have to build the PSO first, and slowly shift the couple to building it further

NSO is Based on a Few Basic Processes that Spiral Out of Control : 

NSO is Based on a Few Basic Processes that Spiral Out of Control Conflict shows a pattern of demand change and withdraw from the discussion. Diffuse psychological arousal (DPA) is high, especially during arguments, with elevated heart rate, perspiration, and pulse Women are more likely to begin with harsh startups, while men are more likely to become flooded and stonewall and to rehearse stress-inducing thoughts Gridlock may be resolved in 2 ways; Disengagement (a slower divorce that ends at 12+ years, or a high conflict period marked by the 4 horsemen (which spells a faster divorce in 5-7 years)

The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse : 

The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse Horseman #1- Criticism A broad and sweeping character attack that seems unfair to the other person and usually includes the words always and never. (e.g., “You are so selfish, you never think about anyone other than yourself”). It is different from a complaint, which exists in every relationship and is limited to a specific incident (e.g., “I’m upset that you forgot our anniversary”). Even though partners may complain about one another, they maintain respect for each other.

Horseman #2 -Contempt“Contempt is the sulfuric acid of love” : 

Horseman #2 -Contempt“Contempt is the sulfuric acid of love” Characterized by corrosiveness, hostility, and disrespect; fueled by long simmering, negative thoughts . Conveyed with nonverbal behavior (i.e., eye rolls, scowls, looks of disgust) or directly by verbal behavior (i.e., mockery, insults, sarcasm). “I take care of our things. I don’t think ‘Oh, I’ll just go out and buy a new one.’ I mean, your spending is how we got into this mess, and you just can’t go crying to daddy to fix it, can you?” An attempt to get the moral “high ground” and control the other person. It usually provokes defensive responses or retaliation and cuts off any attempt for immediate reconciliation or de-escalation.

. Horseman #3-Defensiveness : 

. Horseman #3-Defensiveness The hallmark of a stalemate in the relationship. Each person is protecting themselves against the other’s contemptuous attacks. “Oh really? Well has it ever occurred to you that since I am the one who earns more money than you, I am entitled to spend some of it on myself?” Always leads to more retaliation and escalation and can provide an excuse to place blame on the other person for the negative cycle (which provokes further attack).

. Horseman #4 -Stonewalling : 

. Horseman #4 -Stonewalling One partner withdraws completely for almost all interactions with the other partner. Usually a signal that one or both partners is feeling overwhelmed or emotionally flooded Must shut the other out for self-protection Even if/when they are not being negative Not much hope at this stage (inertia) These negative behavior patterns progressively degenerate a relationship’s health and functioning. The presence of these horsemen (particularly contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling) in a couple’s interaction creates a rapidly descending cycle of negativity and retribution that can be wholly destructive to the relationship.

Bids for Connection : 

Bids for Connection Based on his research, Gottman discovered that one of the keys to good marriages/relationships are successful bids for connection and successful repair attempts. “A bid (for connection) can be a question, a gesture, a look, a touch—any single expression that says, “I want to feel connected to you.” A response to a bid is just that—a positive or negative answer to somebody’s request for emotional connection.” (Gottman, 2001, p. 4)

Connection… : 

Connection… Husbands headed for divorce disregard their wives’ bids for connection 82 percent of the time, while husbands in stable relationships disregard their wives’ bids just 19 percent of the time. Wives headed for divorce act preoccupied with other activities when their husbands bid for their attention 50 percent of the time; happily married wives act preoccupied just 14 percent of the time.

Connection… : 

Connection… Husbands headed for divorce disregard their wives’ bids for connection 82 percent of the time, while husbands in stable relationships disregard their wives’ bids just 19 percent of the time. Wives headed for divorce act preoccupied with other activities when their husbands bid for their attention 50 percent of the time; happily married wives act preoccupied just 14 percent of the time. In a typical dinner conversation, happily married couples engaged with each other over 100 times in a 10 minute period, while couples headed for divorce engaged with each other only 65 times.

More Bids for Connection.. : 

More Bids for Connection.. These positive connotations also allow for greater access to humor and other positive emotions during conflict, which helped to de-escalate arguments (Repair Attempts). However, when there a spouse feels that his or her bids for connection is disregarded, the results are often isolation and loneliness: “they feel lonely despite their proximity to many significant people in their lives” (p. 5).

The Universality of Connections… : 

The Universality of Connections… “Whether people make bids for emotional connection to a relative, a spouse, a friend, or a co-worker, they’re usually seeking to satisfy one of three emotional needs common to all people. Everybody wants (1) to be included, (2) to have a sense of control over their lives, or (3) to be liked. When such needs are met, people experience feelings of well-being and a sense of purpose to their lives.” (p. 19) “By choosing to turn toward, turn away, or turn against each other’s bids for connection—no matter how ordinary or small—they established a foundation that could determine the future success or failure of their relationships. (p. 28). “People make bids because of their natural desire to feel connected with other people…Everybody experiences emotional needs in his or her own way. The kind of relationships that are most important to you may not matter as much to somebody else…But regardless of how much you value certain types of relationships over others, you probably have some hierarchy of needs in your mind. (p. 29).”

Connection No-Nos! : 

Connection No-Nos! “Feeling discouraged once their bids for connection have been rejected or ignored, people rarely re-bid. I was surprised to find that even in satisfied relationships…couples hardly ever repeat a failed bid. It’s as if the bidder says, “Why bother? It’s no use.” And if this hopeless attitude becomes dominant, there is less bidding, less opportunity for connection.” (p. 47) “But sometimes people are turning away for a reason: Consciously or unconsciously, they want to gain more autonomy in a relationship. In these cases, turning away helps us to regulate the balance between freedom and interdependence” (p. 46)

Basic Model of What to Do… : 

Basic Model of What to Do… Move gridlock to dialogue Teach recovery after a fight Teach 6 basic social skills Recognize & avoid the 4 horsemen Soften startups Accept influence (especially men) Sooth physiological arousal Recognize & respond to repair attempts Compromise

Also… : 

Also… Effective Repair is easier to accomplish when there are Rituals of Connection (standard every-day ways the couple connects & feels boded to each other) Fade out the therapist-Gottman starts with 90 minute sessions, then eventually moves to once every 2 weeks, then month, and finally to “therapy checkups”

“It’s a myth…. : 

“It’s a myth…. That if you solve your problems you’ll automatically be happy. We need to teach couples that they’ll never solve most of their problems” -John Gottman

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