Recently, I learned The Gottman Institute released a free app called “Gottman Card Decks” that couples can use together to improve their relationship. I downloaded it to see if it could be beneficial for my clients, friends, family, and myself.
First, let me tell you who Dr. Gottman is. He is one of the world’s leading couples therapist and has worked with couples for over 40 years. Dr. Gottman and his wife Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman founded The Gottman Institute, which uses empirical data to give us scientifically proven ways to improve our relationships. I was first introduced to his work in grad school. I’ve found his concepts very useful in the lives of my clients as well as my own. A book of his that I recommend to couples is “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.” I’ve seen the positive influence of this book on many relationships. When I found out Gottman released an app, I had to try it.
Gottman Card Decks App
The app is a series of “cards” that couples can use to explore and work on different aspect of their relationship. Once downloaded, users have access to 14 different decks of cards. Each deck touches on many of the areas that Dr. Gottman has scientifically proven are important to fostering healthy relationships. Within the app there are instructions on how to use each deck, as well as an explanation on how using the deck can improve relationships.
Overview of the Decks
- This deck states that “an important factor in relationship success is ‘knowing’ about your partner’s inner world.” Gottman refers to this idea as Love Maps. Research shows that a stronger love map results in happier relationships. The deck helps couples ask the right questions to learn more about each other. Some of the questions are simple and some are complex. This deck would be a great to use before bedtime.
Example: What makes your partner feel most competent?
- Just like the Love Maps deck, these questions also help couples strengthen their understanding each other. These questions cannot be answered with “yes” or “no” and often lead to deeper discussions.
Example: What do you find excites you in your life right now?
Rituals of Connection
- Dr. Gottman has learned that incorporating rituals into a relationship can help strengthen it. This deck lists situations that may come up in everyday life and give couples an opportunity to decide on rituals they may want to incorporate into their lives.
Example: How to deal with bad luck/hard days.
- This deck allows couples to recognize and act on those small everyday moments that build intimacy. I like the suggestions in this deck and think they could really be useful when you’d like to do something new with your partner. This deck gives a wide variety of fun suggestions to get started.
Example: Prepare a surprise breakfast in bed.
Sex Questions for Men & Women
- Working on improving sexual intimacy isn’t always easy or comfortable. These two decks give users questions to ask each other that will help them learn about each other’s fantasies, turn ons, and turn offs. I like that these questions bring up subjects that may not usually get brought up.
Example: What do you find most erotic and arousing?
- Dr. Gottman’s research has shown that relationships suffer when a partner feels unappreciated. This deck allows couples to look for those positive “little things” in their relationship. Feeling grateful and appreciated for those little things will help strengthen a couple’s bond.
Example: Thank you for listening about how my day went.
- “I feel…” statements are a staple skill that almost every couples counselor will teach to their clients. Using “I” statements are important because they improve communication and don’t place blame. While using this deck, fo the app suggests that the partner just listen, instead of trying to fix the problem (solutions can be worked on later).
Example: I feel frazzled.
Salsa- Mild, Medium, & Hot
- These three decks give couples suggestions for improved physical intimacy to integrate into their relationships. I like these decks because they give couples mild, medium, and hot options so they can pick their level of comfort.
Example: (Mild) Give each other a foot massage.
- This deck helps couples express their needs in a way that their partner will understand in a positive and non-demanding way.
Example: I need you to put your phone down while we talk. (Much better than “you’re so self-absorbed!”)
- This deck is designed to help couples empathize with each other. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the emotions of another. It helps create connection in relationships and makes us feel like someone cares about us. Without it, couples often end up feeling lonely and vulnerable.
Example: How does this situation impact you?
- Listening is the best way to understand your partner. Unfortunately couples often find they just don’t take the time to actually listen. This deck will help you listen and be heard.
Example: What feelings are you afraid to think about?
This app can help any couple looking to improve and strengthen their relationship. It takes the science of healthy relationships and turns the research into easily accessible skills that anyone can use. Good communication is the hallmark of a good relationship and the decks touch on so many good ways to improve communication. Parents may also find they want to incorporate some of the questions into their relationships with their children. I say download it, an app just might improve your relationships!
Christopher John Counseling is located in Winston-Salem, NC. Chris specializes in couples therapy and can help you and your partner reconnect and repair problems that you may be facing. If you would like a free consult click here to schedule.