Gottman Premarital Counseling is the premier program for couples exploring marriage. The program provides many foundational aspects necessary for taking the next step in your life.

What is the Gottman Theory?

Drs. John and Julie Gottman have studied couples for over 40 years to determine what makes a successful and unsuccessful relationship. The goal of Gottman Method Couple’s Therapy is to teach couples how to improve communication, intimacy, and friendship and decrease conflict.

Gottman premarital counseling method includes an assessment phase which will direct the premarital counselor to the frequency, duration and necessary interventions.

Assessment Phase

The assessment phase includes a couple’s session, individual sessions and completing a questionnaire that informs the therapist on the direction and goals of therapy.

Therapeutic Interventions

Therapeutic Interventions focus on friendship, conflict management, and creation of shared meaning. Couples learn about the 7 Principles (below), conflict management and relapse prevention method.

 What is a Premarital Counselor?

A Premarital Counselor specializes in helping couples discuss their concerns about getting married, address issues before making that decision, and teach new skills and tools for a successful marriage. The Gottman premarital counseling sessions will provide the knowledge of what makes a stable and enduring relationship, and simultaneously help with the implementation and application of tools for improving the relationship.

What Questions do Premarital Counselors Ask?

Before making any major decision in your life, you probably thought about, considered and discussed the important elements and how they will affect you. Therefore, couples who discuss and explore why they are getting married and topics that will impact their future will be more prepared and ready to manage the ups and downs of marriage.

The Gottman Premarital Counseling helps the couple explore the impact of their family of origin on the relationship. For example, if one or both of the couple’s parents fought frequently, then discussion will center on how to avoid repeating this pattern.  The couple will examine their values and priorities and make sure the important aspects of their lives are in alignment. Some topics that might be addressed here are: money – spending or saving money, how much money is spent or saved each month, and the role of investments. Another crucial topic is children – to have children or not, how many, how will children affect the work schedule. The topic of intimacy, in-laws, chores, religion and many other crucial issues will be discussed to ensure the stability of the relationship.

What are the 4 Horsemen?

In Gottman Premarital Counseling, the therapist will explore whether either partner uses the 4 Horsemen.  The 4 Horsemen include: criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling. Dr. Gottman found that couples who use the 4 horsemen are more likely to end their relationship in divorce.

The Gottman method differentiates between complaints and criticism. A  complaint is a personal statement, often beginning with “I” . For example, “I feel irritated when the dishes are left on the table.” A criticism is more of an attack on the other person. It might sound like, “You are always so lazy and leave your dishes everywhere in the house.” A statement such as this might cause the partner to become defensive and respond by saying, “I’m not lazy. You’re lazy.” The conversation will probably spiral downward with additional criticisms and defensive remarks. Contempt occurs when attacks and insults demean and call into question a person’s self worth. Body language, such as eye rolls or mimicking, can also show contempt, as can stonewalling, when a person tunes out and/or turns away from a partner.

What are some of the Principles that John Gottman has found that Determine if a Marriage will Work?

Gottman premarital counseling  addresses  the 7 Principles that Dr. Gottman found to be essential for a successful marriage:

  1. Enhance your love maps. When your partner and you learn about each other’s fears, worries, passion, thoughts about the day and the future, and hobbies, you will create a deep level of friendship and caring.   The Gottman’s developed a deck of cards with open-ended questions for you to ask each other.  These questions foster and encourage these kinds of meaningful conversations.
  2. Nurture your fondness and admiration. In Gottman’s research, he found that it was essential that the couple’s relationship be based on fondness and admiration. If it is absent, the relationship is unlikely to survive.  If the premarital therapist finds this area needs strengthening, they will teach you to utilize tools to develop fondness, appreciation, gratitude and admiration.
  3. Turn toward each other instead of away.  When couples turn toward each other they learn ways to connect and build intimacy. You can imagine that you have an emotional bank account with your partner and each day your goodwill and positive actions deposit money into your account. In every relationship challenges occur. It is essential  to have extra “money” in your account to deal with those unexpected withdrawals. Gottman found that happy couples put more “money” into their bank account than other couples.
  4. Let your partner influence you. Secure couples work together and share the power in the relationship. They allow for influence and act as team players. Dr. Gottman found that the happiest and most stable couples were husbands who respected their wives and worked together to make decisions.
  5. Solve your solvable problems. Gottman says that there are two types of marital problems: conflicts that can be solved and unresolved.  Solvable problems are situational, and there’s no underlying conflict. Unresolved issues are conflicts that are deep rooted and perpetual issues.
  6. Overcome gridlock. Couples need to learn how to find the unrealized dreams locked inside the perpetual problems. Gottman states, “Gridlock is a sign that you have dreams for your life that aren’t being addressed or respected by each other.” Couples need to identify the dreams that impact the conflict and learn how to discuss these issues.  The couple’s therapist will help you understand the hurt and pain around the issue and how to move to resolution.
  1. Create shared meaning. Gottman premarital counseling will help you develop a shared meaning in your relationship that goes beyond chores and working, and instead creates  deep connection and gratitude for your relationship.

By attending Gottman premarital counseling, you will learn the essential tools to a successful marriage. Premarital counseling will provide the framework necessary for a healthy and secure relationship. These tools will prepare you to tackle the challenges that inevitably occur in the ups and downs of marriage.


Lisa Rabinowitz

Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a certified Gottman therapist working with couples in the US and internationally. Lisa has worked for many years with couples who have both diagnosed and undiagnosed ADHD. Her certifications and experience uniquely qualify her to support couples with relationship challenges that often feel insurmountable. Please reach out for a free 20-minute consultation with Lisa today.

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