Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gottman's Principles 4 and 5

GRADE: 40/50 (I like what you have written. It is a good start. Including more specific examples of each principle would make a more complete paper. Also, Gottman wrote "Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child" and it is excellent!)
Lena Baron
Assignment 11
Principles 4 and 5
Let Your Partner Influence You
Solve Your Solvable Problems

While reading Gottman’s book my mind keeps screaming, “I need a Gottman’s PARENTING book!” He is so right on for marriage. Imagine how he could help with parenting!  But that’s a discussion for a different time.

While reading about Principle 4, Let Your Partner Influence You, I found this principle to be an original concept that I hadn’t really heard throughout my marriage studies up to this point. My studies are limited, yet I think that this idea is somewhat limited as well in its popularity. In addition, Gottman goes beyond the “norm” of yesteryear and tells husbands to start listening to their wives if they want a happy marriage, with a little mumble at the end that wives should also listen and learn from their husbands. I found it a bit humorous.

I appreciated the fact that Gottman didn’t leave the subject at “husband’s listen to your wives…” He brought in the why behind the suggestion. He says, “Although it is always important for both husband and wife to try to keep the four horsemen from taking over in times of conflict, it is especially important that men be aware of the danger to their marriage when they use one of them to escalate the negativity. For some reason, when a wife uses the four horsemen in the same manner, the marriage does not become more unstable. At this point, the data do not offer an explanation for this disparity. But we know that as a general rule women do accept influence from their husbands, which may help to explain the gender differences in our findings. So although it certainly makes sense for both partners to avoid escalating conflicts in this way, the bottom line is that husbands put their marriage at added risk when they do.”

When applying this principle to my marriage, I find myself profoundly grateful. I found a husband who wouldn’t know how to use the four horsemen on purpose if I asked him to. I have mentioned our weaknesses toward flooding and stonewalling in my previous paper. But with gratitude I can say that my husband doesn’t use the four horsemen on a daily basis and sometimes we can get through a conflict without him bringing them out at all. However, I can’t say the same for me. I grew up in a home where the four horsemen were members of the household. They were living and breathing entities within the walls of our home. Unfortunately, it takes a complete overhaul of habitudes to shake their influence from ones soul. Thank heaven’s that the husband’s influence in this regard can make or break a relationship.

I enjoyed reading through Principle 5, Solve Your Solvable Problems. This principle is one that I will refer back to often in the next while as I try to apply these principles to my marriage. I love that Gottman gives suggestions within this principle that are doable and so helpful. Again, I bring up parenting. I know these five steps will help me as a parent as well as a wife. While talking about Step 3, Soothe Yourself and Each Other, Gottman gives a Self Soothing exercise. I need to take this exercise and master it, and soon! As a massage therapist, my husband has mastered the art of relaxation and calming down. I am a work in progress to say the least.

Step One, Soften Your Startup, brought an image to mind. It went something like this; I’m cleaning up the living room for the umpteenth time that day, I am frazzled with my world and the kids, I’m at the end of my rope. Leif is in the next room. Suddenly, I find myself screaming his name (as if all that I’m feeling is his darn fault! And he better fix everything, Yesterday!) Well, those were my thoughts and feelings anyway. However, now that I’ve been taught the skills (Soften Your Startup), I have a choice to make. Leif hasn’t entered the room yet. When he does, am I going to continue my path with the four gallant horsemen, or am I going to calm down and soften my startup?  I pray that I can master that soft startup.

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