Do you find it impossible to compromise with your partner on a sticky issue? Are you having the same argument on repeat, and neither of you are budging?
The Gottman Approach To Relationship Compromise
In the Gottman Method of couples’ therapy, we use these 3 steps to reach a compromise in an area of tension between couples. Do not attempt these steps in the midst of an argument or heated exchange; wait for a moment of harmony between you. Allow a good 30 minutes to go through this exercise together. Each of you should do the steps separately, then discuss together.
3 Steps For Couple’s Compromising
- Make two lists. In the first list, define your areas of inflexibility on the matter. These are the core ideas, needs and values that are non-negotiable to you.
- In the second list, define your areas of greater flexibility. These are areas of potential compromise with your partner. They may not seem ideal, but in compromise you both win a little and lose a little. Be realistic. Identify areas where you can be less rigid.
- Ask each other the Gottman “Art of Compromise” questions in order to come up with a temporary solution. I’ve reproduced the questions for you below, but for further reading I recommend John Gottman’s book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (you will find many more helpful exercises and wonderful advice in this book).
Art of Compromise Questions – From The Gottman Institute
Reproduced from the Gottman blog.
- Can you help me to understand why your “inflexible” needs or values are so important to you?
- What are your guiding feelings here?
- What feelings and goals do we have in common? How might these goals be accomplished?
- Help me to understand your flexible areas. Let’s see which ones we have in common.
- How can I help you to meet your core needs?
- What temporary compromise can we reach on this problem?
Rachael Walden is trained in the Gottman Method of Couples’ Therapy.