Update + [Re-Post] The Positive Perspective

Welp, I just fell off the face of the earth there didn’t I?

I didn’t realize that I was going to be so busy with work! We hosted the Gottman Level 3 training in Seattle this past weekend for 120+ therapists from all over the world!

There were people from Ireland, Austria, and Australia! It was very cool to see so many people passionate about counseling couples and doing it in a way that’s effective and reliable. Very few approaches to therapy are as tested and validated as the Gottman method, which became apparent as I watched John and Julie perform roleplays over the course of three days. It was a rare treat and I feel incredibly fortunate to have met them both and seen them in action.

I was on my feet all three days and only had Sunday as a day of rest before we were back at it for another workshop on Tuesday. I was feeling so run down, I just slept most of yesterday and went grocery shopping.

Now, without further ado, I will continue my celebrations of The Sound Relationship House, by sharing the remainder of my original posts on the Gottmans’ approach to couples therapy. I’m going to go through and schedule these buggers for the next few days, so I won’t do things like get too tired to post or forget to post. I’m losing it, friends.

The Positive Perspective is one of the hardest things I had to work on in my relationship. As someone who has dealt with depression, I’m prone to looking at the crappy side of things and letting one crap thing weigh 100 times what 100 good things weigh. Learning to look at all the amazingly wonderful things about my partner and my relationship (and my life!) has been such a wonderful blessing. Relationships aren’t perfect, but they can be really good, and a lot of that is ultimately about how you see your partner and choose to work towards a life of happiness or misery.

P.S. I hope you enjoy looking at the old way I captioned photos in Paint.

We’re back with the fourth installment in the Sound Relationship House. Click on the following links for the first three posts in this series, Building Love Maps, Sharing Fondness and Admiration, and Turning Towards.

So, next on the Gottman Love Train (aka The Sound Relationship House) is The Positive Perspective.

This one may seem a little more obvious than the others, but bear with me here. It’s all in the Jedi mind tricks bag that is “healthy relationships”.

Well, as we’ve established, the Sound Relationship House is like most other houses – It can’t stand upright without a good foundation. So now that we have our Love Maps, Fondness and Admiration, and Turning Towards in place, we can build upon the Positive Perspective which is based off of Bob Weiss’s theory of positive sentiment override and negative sentiment override.

Let’s set the premise. Say you’re in a relationship with this guy. You super like him and most of the time he’s a cool dude. Sometimes he’s an arrogant jerk and he totally pretends he doesn’t care about the best for the galaxy (you totally know where I’m going with this), but then he surprises you and decides to fight with the Imperial Starfleet and stop being such a jerkface.

You start to really think he’s the cat’s pajamas, the bee’s knees, the chewy to your bacca (?). You get the picture.

Then he does something really stupid, like get himself frozen in time and say something super self-absorbed like “I know,” when you finally get the guts to tell him, “I love you!”

But then, you remember…

That guy was a great kisser.

He looks really good with a wookie.

And he totally saved me from a life of slug servitude…

I guess I can forgive him for being so insufferable sometimes.

That’s basically positive sentiment override. You and your partner build up these opinions or beliefs about each other seeing one another as “all good” or “all bad”. Unfortunately, when you see them as “all bad” it becomes nearly impossible to see the good. The person who was once your best friend has now become your arch enemy. You start building a gigantic army of walls and protection and light sabers to keep this person from hurting, disappointing, or pissing you off anymore than they already have.

So how do you get out of negative sentiment override and start to see the good in someone again?

We go back to the foundation.

Love Maps.

Fondness and Admiration.

Turning Towards.

These are the things that build up that emotional bank account. These are the things that make your partner seem less like Darth Vader and more like this guy…

[Re-Post] Turning Towards

Back at it, enjoy.

You know what I love about The Sound Relationship House?

It makes sense. I see it in my relationship every day. I see it in my friends’ relationships. There will always be those intangibles that make one relationship different than another, one relationship more sparkly, one relationship more compatible.

However, no matter how compatible you are, without the pieces of The Sound Relationship House, a relationship will not last (happily) for the long haul. This is a recipe for a delicious relationship cake. Oooh, if only it was named The Sound Relationship Cake. Darn.

I love when my bids for attention are seen by my partner. Granted, I can be really obvious sometimes, but I know he knows my cues and he’s eager to respond to my requests for attention and company. It’s fun when a partner chooses to engage with you, because it shows he wants to hang out with me. It’s fun when your partner thinks you’re fun!


I figured as I sit here in my Gottman Level 1 training, I would follow-up on The Sound Relationship House. So, where were we? We’ve already covered our Love Maps and discussed Fondness and Admiration. So what’s next?

Oh yes, Turning Towards. So what is Turning Towards?

It’s exactly what it sounds like – stop watching the TV, stop looking out the window, stop waiting for your turn to speak and hear what your partner is saying and accept their bid for attention.

What does a bid look like? Well, generally it’s like, “Oh hey, look at that _____ over there!” or “Man, today was tough.” or “Did you hear that?” or “I think something is in my uterus.”

Basically, any opportunity to pay attention to your partner and engage in a dialogue. Even a small, “Mmmhmmm,” or a “Oh man! I totally see what you’re looking at, that’s crazy!” or “Holy Moly, we made a baby!”

Why is this so important? Well, just think about how crappy you feel when you’re out and you think your boyfriend/girlfriend/mom/dad/friend is standing behind you and you start speaking to them. You get about four sentences into a story about how you’ve been gassy all morning since eating those new multigrain muffins you bought at Target and then you realize that boyfriend/girlfriend/mom/dad/friend has actually moved three aisles over to look at color swatches for their new blender. How do you feel when you realize you’ve been speaking about your flatulence to no one, or worse, someone, for a full five to ten minutes?

That’s what happens when you don’t turn towards your partner’s bids for attention. Eventually, they stop trusting you and stop making attempts to connect with you because they end up feeling like Jennifer Aniston after she found out Brad was leaving her for Angelina. So in essence, really freaking terrible, you guys.

When you do turn towards, this builds up your emotional bank account. Those little bids become like Monopoly money for your relationship.

So how much is a bid worth? Well, John Gottman found that all good relationships have a positive to negative bid ratio of 5:1. So for every yucky interaction, there are 5 good ones in healthy, happy relationships. In ailing relationships, it’s a .08:1 ratio. Bleh.


So a bid is $5 for your account. A bad bid is like a -$25 withdrawal from your emotional bank account. In toxic relationships, you get into the red real fast. For every negative thing said or done (or even perceived) to your partner, you get $25 taken from your account.

  1. You look nice today. +$5
  2. You did a really great job with the kids this morning. +$5
  3. You remembered to pick up a thing of milk because you used the last of it. +$5
  4. Doing the dishes before you’re asked. +$5
  5. Saying you don’t understand why she/he doesn’t want you to do the dishes? -$25

Now, you’re at -$5. Not pretty considering you got milk, did the dishes, and said two nice things.

Relationships are daily work, people. It takes effort, it takes time, it takes using your noggin for all that space about your partner’s likes and dislikes.

They are so rewarding when they work though.

[Re-Post] Share Fondness and Admiration

I’m republishing Dr. John Gottman‘s Sound Relationship House series because of this post. Join the fun!

We all like compliments. We like when our partners tell us we look nice or that we look good in black. What we really love is the stuff that’s a little deeper. We love when our partners say, “You are an amazing parent,” or “You are a wonderful person and I’m proud to be with you.”

That stuff is deep. We need to share that stuff. We need to remind ourselves and our partners why we’re doing this whole crazy relationship thing in the first place.

Ok, so now that we’ve checked our Love Maps, we’re headed to the next stop on the love train.

Share Fondness and Admiration.


Couples who come to therapy have normally waited SIX YEARS since first beginning to have problems. So, it’s usually a crisis situation by the time they come in… like “I will throw her overboard the next time we’re on a boat” type thing.

OK, so not that bad hopefully, but still. If Goldie and Kurt can make it through Overboard and live happily ever after then we all can.



What were we talking about? Oh yes, Fondness. Admiration. Such simple words, so hard to do. Especially when there’s SIX (1…2…3…4…5…6) years of misery, contempt, boredom, irritation, loneliness, etc. all bubbling under the surface.



Is this your relationship? A tar pit of doom and despair?

Fondness and Admiration means expressing what you like about your partner. Sure, maybe it’s not so great now, but what did you like in the beginning? Do you remember when everything was unicorns with rainbow ice cream cones and hot cherry air balloons? Close your eyes and think about it. Do you see it? No? OK, well you get the point. It’s that bright and shiny feeling.

What did you like about him/her?



Stop thinking about Brad Pitt. Focus.

Were they nice to little old ladies crossing the street? Did they say “Please” and “Thank you” when you got them a napkin at McDonalds? Did they like Kung Fu movies and Chinese food, too?

OMG, I love King Fu. You do?



Think about it. Now tell that person.

As the prophet Kanye West once said, “If you love a person you should go ahead and tell ’em/ People never get their flowers while they can still smell ’em”.

Wise, wise words.

So yes, share these things with the person you love. Shout it from a mountain, hold a radio over your head, write it on a side walk, or just walk right up to them and say “Hey, I really like you in that blue shirt. Totally brings out your ab muscles.”

Think about how these things make you feel when you hear them from others, especially the people you respect and love the most. Now, give that gift to someone who you thought was bright and shiny at one point. Take that silver polish out and give them a good rub down and look at them and see your reflection gleaming right back at you. That’s love, my pretties. That’s love.