This Friday on The Gottman Relationship Blog, we reach the end of our series on The Four Horsemen and Self Care! As the clip-clopping of hooves grows faint and the dust clouds settle around us, we give you your Weekend Homework Assignment.

This weekend, we’d like to give you a chance to reflect on all that you’ve learned. To help in tying everything together, we share a short interview with Dr. Julie Gottman below. In the following Q&A, she shares her take on the links between mindfulness and Gottman Method Couples Therapy (GMCT): 

Q: How can couples be more mindful of their own personal histories and shared history when approaching the Four Horsemen in the moment?

A: First of all, they have to be aware of how their childhoods affected them. Many are not. That means remembering how their parents voiced anger and disciplined them when young and conflicted between themselves. Then, couples must realize how these set the stage for their style of emotional expression with their partners here and now. Couples should aim to break the cycle – not use the 4 Horsemen themselves with either their partners or kids. This might mean having a long discussion with their partners about that history, each taking turns describing their experience while the other listens.

Q: Generally speaking, where do you see links between GMCT and mindfulness practices?

A: Mindfulness is wonderful. It’s a way to practice self-acceptance, self-soothing, and centering. When we can witness [ourselves] using mindfulness techniques, we tend to not judge ourselves so harshly. Mindfulness allows us to just see, observe, and understand without judgment. In turn, when we are less judgmental with ourselves, we are also less judgmental with our partners. Mindfulness also allows us to develop compassion for ourselves, which leads to feeling more compassion for others, including our partners. In GMCT, we encourage people to describe themselves rather than describing their partners, especially during conflict. Mindfulness strengthens our ability to do that through the self-awareness it creates.

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As you consider our latest series from the finish line, we encourage you to take the time to navigate back through our recent blogs, jotting down a few notes as you review, including connections you’ve made to events in your own life. These reflections may bring up difficult or painful memories, so whether or not you plan to talk about your conclusions with your partner this weekend, remember to practice good self care!

Remember: It takes time to develop a natural habit of mindfulness, but as you gain awareness of your thoughts and emotions in the moment, you will become better able to take advantage of all of the tools offered by Gottman Method Couples Therapy. Self-knowledge is the key to developing a deeper understanding of your relationship – and to strengthening trust, commitment, and romance!


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Weekend Homework Assignment: Q&A and Review
Ellie Lisitsa

Ellie Lisitsa is a staff writer at The Gottman Institute and a regular contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog. Ellie is pursuing her B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis on Cognitive Dissonance at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.