The Sound Relationship House is a theory developed by Drs John and Julie Gottman, the world’s leading relationship psychologists.
The Sound Relationship House Theory is the Gottman Method’s foundation, which uses a practical approach to help couples break through barriers to achieve greater understanding, connection, and intimacy in their relationships. The Gottman Couples Method is at the core of Luxdates’ philosophy of a successful relationship.
In a series of articles, we introduce this concept to build a better relationship with your partner.
Today we will talk about the fourth level of the Sound Relationship House: Positive Perspective.
When the three previous levels have been built, a positive perspective on the relationship takes form and a willingness to give your partner the benefit of the doubt develops. The Gottman Couples Method calls this state “Positive Sentiment Override” (PSO).
Couples in healthy relationships see the best in each other and don’t rush to offence or criticism.
If the first three levels of the Sound Relationship House are not working, ie if the relationship doesn’t rest on a solid friendship between the couple, then the couple may find themselves in the “Negative Sentiment Override” (NSO) state, in which even neutral or positive messages are perceived as negative. That’s when the couple focuses more on what the other person doesn’t do, and neglects to notice the things the other person does, as these may by now be taken for granted.
Does that sound familiar?
Try to go back to the early days of your relationship, when you felt that spark, and everything the other person did or said was special. There was so much positivity, little things were unimportant and our ability to forgive the other person’s mistakes was infinite. That state was PSO.
A fundamental principle of maintaining The Positive Perspective in your relationship is to letting your partner influence you.
Let that one sink in.
If you do not accept your partner’s influence, the chances of your Sound Relationship House collapsing increase.
In our strive for independence, allowing another person’s influence is tough. And, while this issue does apply to both men and women, research shows that accepting your partner’s influence is a lot tougher for men than it is for women.
“The happiest, most stable marriages were those where the husband who treats his wife with respect and did not resist power sharing and decision making with her. When the couple disagreed, those husbands actively searched for common ground rather than insisting on getting their way.” John Gottman, PhD
This is not about “giving in” or “losing” or even being “pussy-whipped”. It is about the quality of the relationship, and about the couple’s ability to handle conflict. A relationship is not a war in which battles must be won.
Both partners are responsible for keeping the Four Horsemen (criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling – more on this in the next instalment of the series) out of their relationships, but research indicates that husbands are frequently the ones who let the horsemen run free.
So, when your partner rushes out the door and forgets to kiss you goodbye, a Positive Perspective means that you give your partner the benefit of the doubt that they were absentmindedly preoccupied rather than intentionally negligent. Believing that you’re on the same team solidifies your union and strengthens you from the inside out.