Building a Sound Relationship
Whether you’re in a new relationship, frequently daydreaming about your significant other, or you are in a seasoned marriage of 30 years, having a strong relationship is not only important but necessary to weather the ups and downs of life.
The Gottman Institute, a program of researchers who increase the understanding of relationships, utilize a research-based approach that helps couples navigate building a sound relationship. Here, I will share the importance of building the relationship house with you and your partner and highlight the major structures needed to have the best connection.
If you’re in the process of building a new home. It can be not only exciting but also extremely stressful. The time, money, and energy that goes into creating your dream home are much like the building phases of relationships.
Stage 1 – Foundation- The basis of the relationship begins with a genuine friendship, common courtesy, respect, and the giving and receiving of affection. This is the start of your journey with a future spouse or long-term partner. These are the basics that assist in valuing one another as an individual, enjoying the company and time with one another that is essential to move forward to building a solid structure together.
Stage 2 – Framing- The frame of your house begins to take shape when the walls are up, door and windows are put in place, and the roof is nailed down. Without the important structures of trust and commitment, the relationship house would literally fall to the ground. It is imperative that as a couple, you discuss the do’s and don’ts of trust and intentionally state your commitment to one another. The better the framing, the sturdier the house. Over time, it will be helpful to continuously reinforce the framing by communicating about any trust issues or trouble in commitment, if necessary.
Stage 3 – Plumbing, Mechanical, Electrical – Next, we look at the guts of your house. Most of these systems need inspection and routine maintenance. The insides of your relationship consist of having a positive perspective of your connection. Sharing feelings of love, hope, and goodwill with one another will help protect you from negativity and conflict that inevitability arises in any working relationship. To keep the guts intact, make a dedicated effort to foster positive feelings and experiences throughout time.
Stage 4 – Insulation and Drywall – The foundation, framing, and guts of the house you have built will be necessary to have when you encounter conflict. Although disagreements can be ugly and kept hidden from the outside world, they are necessary to work through and manage. Key points in working through conflict are accepting your partner’s influence and listening to their opinions, keep an active dialogue going about the problem(s), and practice your own self-soothing if/when you become upset rather than lashing out at your partner.
Stage 5 – Exterior and Interior Finish- With the final details taken care of, inspections performed, and landscaping done, the relationship is a beautiful, strong structure. In this stage, we can work to support the dreams of our partners. We can encourage them to reach for the stars all while sharing a vision of life that suits you both. With mutual goals and vision for life, you work towards a positive experience that both individuals are satisfied with and find meaningful.
Building a strong and healthy relationship can be a long-term journey that requires thoughtfulness and attention to details, but the rewards of a true connection and bond are invaluable and worthwhile.
If you need assistance with working towards building a sound relationship house, contact me for couples counseling or 1:1 therapy if you have personal concerns about attracting unhealthy partners or struggle to have meaningful relationships.