How Sound is your Relationship House?

Evelyne L. Thomas
February 9, 2024
min read

How Sound is your Relationship House?

Are you taking care of all the elements of your relationship? Often couples seek Couples Counselling & Coaching because they have neglected fundamental elements of connection. Their Relationship House is not standing strong. They feel insecure and are unable to reach a better place on their own. Let's step back and have a look at what is a Sound Relationship.

Developed by relationship researchers Dr. John M. Gottman and Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, the metaphorical house represents the fundamental blocks which support a healthy and thriving relationship. During consultation, couples examine the various ‘floors’ and elements of their ‘Relationship House’ and explore how they can contribute to fostering love, trust, and longevity in their relationship.

When you know what you can personally work on, you have already made progress.


The foundation of the Gottman Sound House is built upon what Dr. Gottman refers to as "Love Maps." when couples take time to sit and talk about their dreams and desires or fears, when they share their childhood memories, when they are curious about each other, they create a special map of the two of them, one that represents the knowledge and understanding of each other's inner worlds. Developing and maintaining a detailed Love Map helps partners stay connected, build empathy, and navigate the challenges that arise within the relationship.

Self-evaluate: How well do you and your partner know each other?  

  • I can speak about my partner's life dreams  - True/False
  • I know my partner's major current worries  - True/False
  • My partner is familiar with what are my current stresses - True/False

Floor 1 - Sharing Fondness and Admiration

The first pillar of the Gottman Sound House is centred around the practice of sharing fondness and admiration. Expressing appreciation, respect, and affection towards one another is essential for creating a positive atmosphere within the relationship. Regularly verbalizing and demonstrating admiration helps to reinforce the emotional bond and build a sense of security between partners.

Self-evaluate: How often do you and your partner express appreciation, love and kindness to each other?

  • I feel loved and cared for in this relationship - True/False
  • When my partner enters into a room, I'm glad to see them - True/False
  • Romance is something our relationship definitely still has in it - True/False

Floor 2 - Turning Towards Each Other

The second pillar emphasises the importance of turning towards each other in moments of connection. It involves being attentive, responsive, and engaged in each other's daily interactions. Partners who consistently respond positively to each other's bids for attention, affection, or support create a strong foundation of trust and emotional intimacy. Small gestures go a long way. Whether you are responding to your partner with a smile, a kiss or another form of affection, you are sending the message that your partner matters to you.

Self-evaluate: How do you and your partner show each other that you matter to each other?

  • We have a lot to say to each other - True/False
  • We have a lot of fun together - True/False
  • We have a lot of interests in common - True/False
  • I feel romantic towards my partner - True/False
  • Sexuality is an important pillar of our relationship - True/False

Floor 3 - The Positive Perspective

Do you see the glass half full or half empty? Often couples fall into the habit of seeing only the negatives in their partner, they have become so hypervigilant that they see each other as enemies. When partners remember that they are on the same team and both want to matter to each other, they can start giving each other the benefit of the doubt and start rebuilding on their friendship.

Self-evaluate: In the recent past in my relationship, generally:

  • I felt innocent of blame for this problem - True/False
  • I felt personally attacked - True/False
  • I felt unjustly criticised - True/False

Floor 4 - Manage Conflicts

Conflict will happen right? Even the most loving couples can't get it perfect all the time. There will be moments in your relationship when you won't agree, you won't even like what your partner is doing. When you remember that conflict is an opportunity for your relationship to develop and become stronger and deeper, you will be able to reconnect and learn together from your disagreement. Gottman Model differentiates between solvable and perpetual conflicts. Attempts at repairing conflicts work wonders though, like a magical wand to help you come back on the same side against the world instead of against each other. Being able to dialogue and really listen to each other points of view is paramount. You can only do that if you have self-soothed (agree on time out, take a few deep breath and go for a walk) and you are managing to stay calm. When you are both in a calmer place you can dialogue and find ways to outcomes which are acceptable to you both.

Self-evaluate: When we discuss our issues:

  • We tend to blame each other for the issue - True/False
  • I can listen to my partner, but only up to a point - True/False
  • We are good at taking breaks when we need them - True/False
  • We keep hurting each other when we discuss our core issue - True/False

Floor 5 - Make Life Dreams Come True

When partners are helping each other realise what they want to achieve in their life, they show each other that they matter and that they want the best for each other. They build on the friendship part of the relationship. Whether it's taking some time off work to go back to studying or pursuing a project, when partners support each other they cultivate a positive view of each other and will avoid gridlock conflicts.

Self-evaluate: When I think of our relationship:

  • I can easily and openly talk to my partner about my life dreams - True/False
  • I'm open to supporting my partner's dreams and aspirations - True/False

Floor 6 - Building Shared Meaning

Whether couples come from the same cultures, creating rituals, traditions, and shared goals contribute to a sense of purpose and belonging. Cultivating a shared vision for the future helps partners navigate life's challenges together, strengthening their bond and fostering a sense of togetherness.

Self-evaluate: How well are you and your partner able to create a sense of shared meaning in your lives together?

  • During weekends, we do a lot of things together that we enjoy and value - True/False
  • We share many similar values in our roles as lovers and partners - True/False
  • We have similar financial goals - True/False

The Walls - Trust and Commitment

Can a relationship truly flourish and strengthen without Trust and Commitment? To go back to the metaphor of the house, the house would not stand long, it certainly would not be safe.

Trust is the cornerstone of any successful relationship, and it is developed through consistent actions, honesty, and reliability. Commitment refers to the willingness to invest time, effort, and resources into the relationship, even during difficult times. Trust and commitment provide a safe and secure environment for love to flourish and relationships to thrive.

Self-evaluate: What is Trust for you?  How do you help your partner trust you? How about Commitment? How do you show your partner you are committed to transforming and grow in your relationship?

  • My partner lies to me - True/False
  • I have hidden things from my partner - True/False
  • When going through a hard times, I don't feel I can rely on my partner to be there for me - True/False
  • During a fight my partner doesn't threaten to leave me - True/False
  • During a fight I don't threaten to leave my partner - True/False
  • I make sure that my partner feels loved by me - True/False

The Sound House Theory is the foundation of the Gottman Method. It provides a comprehensive framework for building and maintaining healthy relationships. By incorporating the foundation of Love Maps, the pillars of Sharing Fondness and Admiration, Turning Towards Each Other, Conflict Management, and Building Shared Meaning, you and your partner can foster love, trust, and longevity in your relationships.

Remember that creating a strong relationship requires continuous effort, open communication, and a commitment to growth. Embracing the principles of the Gottman Sound House can be transformative, allowing you to build deeper connections and create a lasting love that stands the test of time.

If you are not sure which pilar is missing or you would want to improve but don't know how, you can reach out and book a free call. Together we can work out a plan of action.

Ref. Copyright 2000 - 2016  by Dr. John M. Gottman and Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman. Distributed under licence by the Gottman Institute, Inc.

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