The iconic Australian songwriter Paul Kelly wrote,
“Little decisions are the kind I can make, Big resolutions are so easy to break”.
The waters are yet to calm on the COVID 19 landscape; certainty and predictability still remain fragile commodities. As we enter 2022, it is the little decisions we can make that can provide more stability and direction for our future.
As you know the John Gottman mantra of ‘small things often’ is more important than ever as we contend with looking after our relationships, families, work and ourselves. Did you know that if the navigation calculations and trajectory were out by only .1 degree for the Apollo mission to the moon, the spacecraft would have missed the moon by 6709 km. Over time, little things become significant. Importantly this is true for both positive and negative acts.
So here are 5 practical ways to create small change across time in your relationship.
We all know that trust is a critical ingredient for a successful relationship - but what do we actually know about trust and how is it built.
In his research, Dr John Gottman found that the basis of conflict for new couples - concerned trust: ‘Will you be there for me when I need you?’.
The building of trust is not instantaneous in relationships. It is created slowly over time through small acts of turning towards each other, being there for your partner and expressing compassion and empathy for one another’s feelings.
Interestingly in relationships, many conflicts concern the defining and building of trust. ‘Are you there for me when I call, when I am worried, upset, hurt or angry?’.
When childhood trauma presents as part of couple distress.
Imagine a couple in their late 40’s, they have teenage children. The presenting problem is described as a parenting problem. Helen (not her real name) reports that when the kids are arguing, yelling, playing loud music or rumbling – making thumping noises, Tony (not his real name) “over-reacts”.
We know what makes relationships work and what doesn’t.
Let us teach you, as therapists, how to guide couples to improve their relationships through Gottman Therapy Level 1 Training.
The Gottman Therapy has clear and specific goals:
- increasing connection and friendship,
- addressing conflict constructively and reducing negative interaction,
- building a life of shared meaning together.
Level 1 Clinical Training - Gottman Method Couples Therapy provides a comprehensive, research-based, professional development pathway in relationship therapy excellence. There are four brilliant levels of training that include a deep dive into research, theory, assessment, formulation, interventions and skills development. Gottman training is world-renowned and highly valued.
Sex and intimacy are not the same thing. Sometimes sex can be intimate and personal, sometimes it can be impersonal and without intimacy. The truth about intimacy is that is built and maintained by a whole range of activities.
A big part of intimacy is quality time. When we meet someone we are attracted to, we want to spend time with them, we become a bit obsessed with them, we want to know everything we can about them. We want to get to know them on a deeper level than we are interested in with other people we meet. That deeper level is one level of intimacy. Let’s call it the ‘best friend’ level of intimacy. To deepen this we make time to hang out with them, we watch them in shared moments, we learn how they behave in social situations, what they enjoy, what they don’t. We learn about their values, their life experiences, their beliefs, wants, needs and desires. As we learn these things we deepen our intimate knowledge of them. Either we like what we learn or we don’t.
If I was pushed to give what I believe is one of the most important pieces of advice about relationships conflict it is this… ACCEPTANCE FIRST, CHANGE SECOND
Fundamentally accepting your partner for who they are, their beliefs, lived experiences, personality and yes, even their flaws, is critical in conflict and for relationship success. Interestingly, the more couples try to change each other, the more likely they are to resist and become more embedded in their positions. Here in lies the relationship paradox—the more I feel fundamentally accepted and validated for who I am in my relationship, the greater the possibility of change occurring. However, if I feel misunderstood, not listened to or validated, the less likely change will occur. So here it is- listen, show understanding, validate and give empathy to your partner first and problem solve second is the key to successful conflict management and connection.
Our motto is this, “When you are in pain, in distress, experiencing negative emotion, my world stops, and I turn towards you and listen and understand with gentleness and compassion.”
Gottman Relationship Therapy Training provides a comprehensive, research-based, professional development pathway in relationship therapy excellence. There are four brilliant levels of training that include a deep dive into research, theory, assessment, formulation, interventions and skills development. Gottman training is world renowned and highly valued.
If you are interested in:
• understanding what makes relationship works or fail,
• comprehending a research-based relationship theory that guides your work with couples,
• understanding comprehensive assessment and formulation of a couple’s strengths and issues,
• developing the skills to use a range of therapeutic interventions to manage conflict, build friendship and connection
Then this training is absolutely for you.
To begin the journey that will transform you couples practice, ‘Gottman Level : Bridging the Couple Chasm’ is a two-day introduction into Gottman research, theory and practice. Watch case videos of Julie Gottman working with a couple from the initial assessment, to managing and de-escalating conflict, building friendship and emotional connection/attunement and creating shared meaning.
Currently in the world, there are 26 Master Trainers and Consultants in Gottman Therapy. This group has honed their craft over many years and lead the Gottman training across all levels. Fortunately, in Australia there are two Master Trainer and Consultants, John Flanagan and Trish Purnell-Webb and they will be conducting a Gottman Level 1 training in July and November of 2021. During this training, Trish and John add a level of experience, depth and case examples that consolidate learning and create a highly enjoyable and informative professional development environment—so come and join them.
As we are making steps towards what resembles a normal existence: lockdowns and border closures are almost in the rear vision mirror. Restaurants, theatres, art galleries and theme parks have reopened. Australians as a whole have been remarkable in the way we have responded to the pandemic. Never before have mental health support services been so overwhelmed with individuals, couples and families seeking assistance for stress, anxiety, depression and relationship issues.
A variety of experts such as Gottman, Johnson, and Tatkin, say one of the most common conflict cycles in relationships is the pursuer-distancer dynamic. In other words, if one partner becomes frustrated, agitated or (in extreme cases) aggressive - the other partner's reaction may be to become increasingly defensive and/or physically distant. This includes leaving the room, house, or neighbourhood.
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