Does your relationship have a sound house?


What is a sound relationship house you may ask? The sound relationship house is a picture of the qualities that encompass a healthy relationship. The main issue I see in couples is the blending of culture of origin. For example, one person was raised in an open family and the other was raised in a closed family. When the two come together the opposites attract, but eventually the differences can seem like they are attacking one another. In the sound relationship house, you will learn the keys to conflict management and a healthy relationship.

The sound relationship house was created by Dr. John Gottman to assist in counseling. Dr. John Gottman is a marriage scientist who has studied relationship patterns and can predict dissolution of a marriage with a high percentage of accuracy based off conflict style. Dr. John Gottman has a helpful tool called the sound relationship house that gives a picture of what a steady and healthy relationship looks like. The sound relationship house is a great metaphor because there are 7 levels that encompass the house that build off one another. If you have built a home before you know that the process takes time, is rewarding, but has some stress.

I use the sound marital house as a technique in my counseling practice. The basis of the sound relationship house is to explain the core foundation, walls, and levels that create a stable relationship. Dr. John Gottman made a visualization of the house by putting trust and commitment on the sides or the walls. Without trust and commitment, the house will fall. The main questions people ask in relationship are, “I am your number one priority” and “will you be there for me?” There are seven levels of the sound relationship house that I will expound upon today: build love maps, share fondness and admiration, turn towards instead of away, the positive perspective, manage conflict, make life dreams come true, create shared meaning.

  1. Build love maps- This step is the foundational step of building a friendship and knowing each other well. Love maps means that you are able to know what is going on in the others world, their likes, dislikes who their friends are, and more. This may sound very basic but some couples that I see cannot name their partners favorite movie, music, or two coworkers that they share space with. You may laugh, but it is a harsh reality. You do not want to feel like strangers in the same home. Thus, this is the first step in dating to get to know someone. Many times in marriage the spouses feel like they no longer need to try or get to know their spouse as they grown and find themselves in the proverbial roommate situation. This encompasses way more than love maps. However, being aware of the other person is essential in stopping the drift.
  2. Share fondness and admiration- Once you get to know the person the natural next step is to begin enjoying things together. You also affirm one another and are in tune to one another’s emotions and emotional needs. In a healthy relationship there should be a 5:1 ration to positive to negative interactions with one another. Conflict is inevitable but the positive should always far outweigh the negative.
  3. Turn towards instead of away. Dr. John Gottman states that everyone has “bids for attention”. Theses bids can be conscious or unconscious but are attempts to draw others around you into your inner world. For example, if I stub my toe I can exclaim, “Ouch!” Which would be my bid for attention, is left to be accepted or rejected? My husband can accept my bid by turning to me and asking, “Are you okay?” or he can reject it by saying nothing and not acknowledging what has happened.
  4. The positive perspective. Whenever you are a part of your significant others world and you feel that you can trust them it is easier to think and respond more positively in conflict. You view your relationship more positively and
  5. Manage conflict these three steps come directly from Dr. John Gottman: “Accept your partners’ influence, dialogue about problems. Practice self-soothing”
  6. Make life dreams come true. This step is possible when you are able to support one another’s dreams, goals, and aspirations. I have seen a multitude of couples who do not believe in the other partner’s dreams, lack support, and feel alone in the relationship. Whenever you are able to support each other you are more able to create a shared meaning in your life and


  1. Create shared meaning. Whenever you get to the roof of the house is when it is easier to pull your lives together through roles, rituals, and goals. The objectives and goals in the relationship line up and are not competing, threatening, or rejected. The couple is able to establish meaning that was never present before. A new chapter in the relationship can begin because communication, conflict resolution, and the alignment of being in a committed relationship where trust has been established. You have a higher sense of purpose and meaning in the relationship because of the pillars of trust and commitment solidifying hope for the future. It becomes easier to let down the guard let the person in and whole heartedly create meaning because there is trust in the future of the relationship.

When looking at the sound relationship house you can go back and forth in between levels. Once you have reached the top of the sound relationship house that does not mean that perfection has been reached. The process of maintaining a sound relationship house will take practice and engagement. You may believe you have arrived, but the levels are fluid and need repetition. Continually make it a point to have rituals of connection and prioritize the relationship. There is never a “stopping point”. When you have created a sound marital house you will be able to better cope with stress, issues as they arise, manage conflict, and dialogue about perpetual issues. When you believe and feel you are on the same page it is easier to resolve conflict and the air feels lighter between you.

The sound relationship house is helpful for couples who engage in arguments frequently, have perpetual issues, poor communication skills, infidelity, parenting and money issues, or one or both partners have emotionally withdrawn. The sound relationship house is helpful in giving you the practical tools to flow through the levels. If you are a visual learner, the house gives a great picture, goals, and a direction in which to go. The sound relationship house helps you to gauge where you are at and gives hope for the future. If you are needing marital or relationship help feel free to set up an appointment with me today by going online or giving me a call (918)970-0095.


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