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The Sound Marital House: A Theory of Marriage. Gottman, J. M. (1999). The sound marital house: A theory of marriage. In The marriage clinic (pp. 87-110). New York: Norton. Three Types of Stable, Happy Couples. Three Types (each with “rich climates of positivity”):

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the sound marital house a theory of marriage

The Sound Marital House: A Theory of Marriage

Gottman, J. M. (1999). The sound marital house: A theory of marriage. In The marriage clinic (pp. 87-110). New York: Norton.

three types of stable happy couples
Three Types of Stable, Happy Couples
  • Three Types (each with “rich climates of positivity”):
    • Volatile: great deal of affect
    • Validating: intermediate amounts of affect
    • Conflict-Avoidant: very little affect.
the critical distinctions influence attempts and emotional expressiveness
The Critical Distinctions: Influence Attempts and Emotional Expressiveness
  • Volatile:
    • begin influence attempts right away
    • the most emotionally expressive
    • positive and negative affect are freely expressed
    • strong, passionate individuals
    • high levels of disagreement as well as affection and humor
  • Validating:
    • influence attempts peak during middle part of interactions
    • emotional expressiveness in moderation, at the right time, and only on really central issues
    • emphasis on we-ness and companionship
  • Conflict-Avoidant:
    • minimize importance of a problem
    • emphasize strengths in their relationship
mismatches the real problem
Influence Function Mismatches

Results

Mismatches, the Real Problem

Validator with Avoider

The validator is constantly pursuing the avoider and feeling shut out emotionally. The avoider starts feeling flooded.

Validator with Volatile

The validator starts feeling not listened to and flooded, like he or she is doing combat duty all the time. The volatile feels that the validator is cold and unemotional, distant and disengaged. There seems to be no passion in the marriage.

Avoider with Volatile

This is the worst of the pursuer-distancer combinations. The avoider quickly feels that he or she has married and out-of-control crazy person. The volatile believes that he or she has married a cold fish and feels unloved, rejected, and unappreciated.

two staples of marriages that work
Two “Staples” of Marriages that Work
  • An overall level of positive affect.
  • An ability to reduce negative affect during conflict resolution.
essential elements of the theory
Essential Elements of the Theory
  • The foundation is composed of marital friendship and its ability to create three levels of positive affect in nonconflict contexts. There are three components:
    • Cognitive room (which leads to “Love Maps” intervention)
    • Fondness and Admiration System
    • Turning toward versus turning away (the emotional bank account).
  • Components of friendship lead to Positive Sentiment Override if they are working well or Negative Sentiment Override if they are not. Sentiment override determines success of repair attempts during conflict discussions.
essential elements of the theory cont
Essential Elements of the Theory (cont.)
  • Conflict and its regulation (not resolution) form the next level. Three parts to this level:
    • Establish dialogue, not gridlock with perpetual problems
    • Solvining solvable problems with some basic skills
    • Physiological soothing (mostly self-soothing)
  • The final level has to do with creating a shared meaning system. This consists of
    • Meshing individual life dreams
    • Meshing rituals of connection, goals, roles, myths, narratives, and metaphors.
the foundation of marital friendship creating positive affect in nonconflict contexts
The Foundation of Marital Friendship: Creating Positive Affect in Nonconflict Contexts
  • Amount of cognitive room partners allocate to one another (especially husbands)
  • Frequency of spontaneous expressions of fondness and admiration
  • Frequency of spontaneous expressions of disappointment and negativity
  • Degree of we-ness in conversations
  • Degree of couple efficacy in dealing with problems
  • Degree to which couples describe their lives as chaotic or out of control
  • Degree to which differences relate to gender issues
  • Size of the emotional bank account -- demonstrated by frequency of turning toward versus turning away from one another during nonconflict interactions.
potential contributions of the sound marital house theory
Potential Contributions of the Sound Marital House Theory
  • Marital therapy should not be based exclusively on how couples resolve problems.
  • Effective conflict resolution is based on middle level of the Sound Marital House that includes everyday marital interactions that produce either Positive or Negative Sentiment Override.
  • Develop alternative interventions to active listening.
  • Focus on dialoguing with perpetual problems.
  • Resolution of gridlocked conflict requires exploration of symbolic meaning of partners’ positions on gridlocked issues.