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Couples Counseling

When I first wrote Bad Behavior, I titled the novel Couples Counseling due to its focus on couples therapy sessions for Grant and Sophie. Dr. Hunter Hayes obviously has his hands full with these two. Before publication we changed the title so it sounded less self-help!

As a romance author, I’m obviously fascinated by romantic relationships. What attracts one person to another? What makes romantic relationships succeed or fail? Why is communication so hard sometimes? How can a couple heal their fractured marriage?

There are some helpful answers out there I want to share today. The guru of couples counseling is Dr. John Gottman, researcher and author. Here’s one of his best books:

John Gottman’s research methods are intriguing: he has couples live in his lab for a few days while hooked up to heart rate monitors and other physical measurements. When couples argue, they become physically distressed, making it difficult for them to work together to resolve the conflict. During an argument, if one partner’s heart rate goes over 100 beats a minute, they both have to retreat to their corners to calm down before resuming the discussion. LOL!

Gottman’s research has focused on heterosexual couples but there is some evidence his principles can work for homosexual couples too. He found that although the woman may appear more distraught in an argument, often times the man is more distraught (pounding heart, tense muscles, adrenaline rush). He becomes flooded by distress, has no idea how to handle it, and may view fleeing as his only recourse. Sometimes the woman pursues him, which makes him withdraw more, and a pursue/withdrawal pattern can ingrain itself.

Women can help lower men’s distress by using “soft start-ups” (e.g. “Remember that light fixture you were planning to replace, honey? When are you thinking of doing that?” instead of “You never do anything you say you’ll do!”) and by making repairs (apologizing, bringing up a private joke, compromising).

For the couple to be happy, men need to make repairs too, and accept influence from their wives. Problems in a relationship can be solvable or “perpetual”–enduring unsolvable problems for which it helps to have some dialogue to understand each partner’s perspective.

This book is chock full of more interesting findings, and I encourage you to check it out. My characters Grant Masden and Sophie Taylor certainly learned many of these strategies from their psychologist Hunter in Bad Behavior. How will their relationship endure the challenges I throw their way in book three, On Best Behavior? Mwa ha ha!

Now it’s time for Omnific’s Author Blog Bounce! Join in HERE.

18 thoughts on “Couples Counseling”

  1. Well, hmm, perhaps my husband and I should read Bad Behavior together, haha. That Gottman nailed the retreating thing on the head – good to know it's a general man thing. Must…resist…general womanly urge urge to pursue. Why did God do this to us??Hey – did you know your Swim Recruit eStory is now being offered free at Omnific? Here, I'll try to link. Yahoo!

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  2. Nicki, sometimes men and women seem so incompatible it's hard to understand how God made us that way!I wouldn't recommend you and hubby reading chapter 5 together of Bad Behavior unless you like it kind of . . . rough. *is mysterious*I was so pleasantly surprised to learn Swim Recruit was available again, hooray! Just in time for Streamline's release next month. 🙂

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  3. So scary. I have the Seven Principles sitting next to my bed. Not sure it's doing any good there. Thanks for commenting on my blog. I gave up on Moby Dick. Need to write a blog post about that, but it feels so defeatist. Arrgh, no one writes like Melville anymore, and if so, the agents would laugh tossing the query letter in the trash. So much for great literature. jennysound/jmfwriter

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  4. Jennifer, I never saw your post! Have you gotten around to reading The Seven Principles yet? 😉 It would be quite amusing to see a publisher's reaction to Melville these days.Rico, thank you.Melbourne Counseling, I'm glad you found this relevant.Universal, relationship problems are indeed widespread. Gottman can help!

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