These levels of communication are a theoretical framework developed by Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Gottman, that explains how couples can build and maintain healthy and satisfying relationships. The theory is based on research conducted by the Gottmans over 40 years and it provides a comprehensive view of techniques that strengthen your relationships. The theory is built on the metaphor of a house, with each level representing a different aspect of the relationship.
Here are the 8 levels:
- Building Love Maps: The concept of building love maps of a relationship is by getting to know your partner’s world and emotional landscape. This includes learning about their likes, dislikes, history, family, friends, goals, and dreams. The more one knows about their partner, the more emotional capital they have in the relationship, which can be used to weather tough times and create a more resilient relationship.
Knowing your partner’s love maps is like making a deposit in the emotional bank account of your relationship, and it helps the couple to create a deeper understanding and connection with each other. It’s a way for couples to understand the details of their partner’s life, including their thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams.
It involves regularly asking your partner questions about their life and taking an active interest in their experiences. This can help couples to feel more connected and to understand each other better.
Example: A couple sets aside time every week to talk about their day and to ask each other questions about their thoughts and feelings. They also make an effort to learn more about each other’s hobbies, interests, and goals.
- Share Fondness and Admiration: Sharing fondness and admiration involves regularly expressing positive feelings towards your partner. This can include things like complimenting them, expressing gratitude, and showing appreciation. This helps to build a positive emotional atmosphere in the relationship and to counteract any negative feelings that may arise.
Example: A couple makes an effort to express positive feelings towards each other every day, whether it’s through verbal compliments, small gestures of kindness, or written notes. They also regularly express gratitude for each other’s contributions to the relationship.
- Turn Towards Each Other: Turning towards each other involves responding positively to your partner’s bids for emotional connection. This can include things like responding to their texts, showing interest in their conversations, and giving them your full attention. This helps to build emotional intimacy and to create a sense of closeness between partners.
Example: A couple makes an effort to respond positively to each other’s bids for emotional connection. They put down their phones when the other person is talking and make an effort to show interest in each other’s conversations and experiences.
- The Positive Perspective: The positive perspective involves focusing on the positive aspects of the relationship and looking for ways to strengthen the relationship. This can include things like focusing on the good qualities of your partner, looking for solutions to problems, and finding ways to make the relationship better.
Example: A couple makes an effort to focus on the positive aspects of their relationship, even when they’re facing challenges. They remind themselves of the things they appreciate about each other and make an effort to find solutions to problems instead of dwelling on them.
- Manage Conflict: Managing conflict involves developing effective communication skills and conflict resolution strategies. This can include things like learning how to express your feelings in a healthy way, listening actively, and finding ways to compromise.
Example: A couple learns how to express their feelings in a healthy way during an argument and practice active listening. They also make an effort to understand each other’s perspective and to find ways to compromise when they disagree.
- Make Life Dreams Come True: Making life dreams come true involves supporting each other’s goals and aspirations. This can include things like helping your partner to achieve their career goals, supporting their hobbies and interests, and working together to achieve shared goals.
Example: A couple makes a plan to support each other’s goals and aspirations. They discuss their career aspirations, hobbies, and interests and make a plan to achieve them together.
- Create Shared Meaning: Creating shared meaning involves finding meaning and purpose in the relationship. This can include things like creating shared goals, values, and traditions. This helps to create a sense of purpose and direction in the relationship.
Example: A couple creates shared goals, values, and traditions that they hold dear. They take time to discuss these things and make plans to achieve them together.
- Trust: Trust is the foundation of a healthy relationship, and it is built over time through the consistent demonstration of honesty, integrity, and reliability. Building trust involves being dependable, being transparent, and following through on promises.
Example: A couple with your words and actions. Trust also involves being able to forgive and letting go of past mistakes.
Example: A couple works on building trust by being transparent and honest with each other, and by following through on their commitments. They also make an effort to forgive each other when mistakes are made and to let go of past hurts.
Overall, this a comprehensive framework that helps couples to understand the different components of a healthy and stable relationship. It’s also important to know these for when preparing for marriage.
By focusing on building trust, communication, and mutual respect, couples can create a strong foundation for their relationship and work towards making their life dreams come true. It is important to remember that these components don’t happen overnight and it requires consistent effort and commitment to make it happen. Also, you may get help from a couples’ counsellor to provide expert guidance in helping your relationship grow.
- Gottman, J. M., & Gottman, J. S. (2015). The Sound Relationship House: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
- Gottman, J. M., & Gottman, J. S. (1994). What Predicts Divorce? The Relationship Between Marital Processes and Marital Outcomes. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
- Gottman, J. M., & Gottman, J. S. (1999). The Marriage Clinic: A Scientifically Based Marital Therapy. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
- Gottman, J. M., & Gottman, J. S. (2002). The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships. New York: Crown Publishers.
- Gottman, J. M., & Gottman, J. S. (2017). The Man’s Guide to Women: Scientifically Proven Secrets from the Love Lab About What Women Really Want. New York: St. Martin’s Press.