As spring nears, I often find myself drawn to the idea of spring cleaning and renewing my space. As we become mindful of our surroundings, we become more motivated to shift our environment and to clear out the “clutter” or negative aspects of our space to make room for brighter and more joyful stimuli. As a couples therapist, I implement the same idea of “spring cleaning,” to the relationships I support by identifying what is going well in addition to identifying what they hope to change. Together, we are able to identify the strengths and qualities we want to keep and augment in conjunction with identifying patterns we wish to eliminate or shift.
In my experience, many couples have experimented with various strategies to improve their relationship such as personal recommendations from family and friends, tips from social media, and from various popular self-help books.
While these work to varying extents, couples often hit roadblocks in their efforts because much of the relationship guidance is not rooted in evidence based practices.
Fortunately, Drs. John and Julie Gottman are pioneers in the field of couples therapy, offering insights and proven interventions to support happier relationships. After nearly 5 decades of research, they have identified the clutter that often impedes a healthy relational environment while providing us resources to build a “Sound Relationship House.” In the same sense as we have different cleaning solutions for specific household concerns, the Gottman’s anecdotes are specific to particular relational concerns. While a professional may be able to support you in identifying the maladaptive patterns and provide you with tangible interventions to “clean house,” the resources via the Gottman Card Deck (free via the AppStore) provide exercises necessary to foster a supportive foundation. By exploring your partner’s inner world via these exercises, you are more likely to begin to see beyond the clutter while strengthening the crucial layers of a Sound Relationship House.
As spring approaches, bringing the pleasantries of warmer weather and blossoming nature, I encourage you to explore ways to increase warmth and positive experiences in your relationships by engaging in readings, apps, workshops, or therapy that highlight the contributions of these brilliant minds.
Amy Begnal is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Rehabilitation Counselor at Del Ray Psych & Wellness, LLC., a holistic mental health practice located at the Wellness Junction in Del Ray. Learn more at delraypsych.com.