Simple Ways to Improve your Relationship

Our very own Angela Michnowicz, LMHC has completed Principles of Effective Couples Therapy trainings from the highly respected Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Gottman. Specialty Trainings like these increase expertise in working with couples and improving communication within relationships. Ms. Michnowicz has graciously provided a series of blogs based on her trainings, to provide education to clients who may be interested in working on their relationship. Below is the third in the Relationship Series.

We can make marriage a little more simple by breaking it down into two groups. You get to decide whether you are Masters or Disasters. Masters are gentle, kind, affectionate, have a sense of humor, and are able to put things into perspective. Masters stay good friends throughout the course of their marriage & life span. They maintain the courtship by learning about each other throughout the course of the marriage. It is important to remember that we change throughout the seasons of life. First we fall in love, then we grow in love. Growing in love takes trust and commitment. It takes understanding that our partner will not always be able to “make us happy”, to roll with the disappointments, and to maintain nourishing the marriage. A Gottman trained couples therapist can teach you how to nourish your marriage by being a Master, rather than a Disaster. Refer back to my previous blog about the Four Horsemen to learn more about what a Disaster does in a marriage. 


A little more about Masters:

Masters use a gentle start up in conversations. This may look like “Honey, I am having a really hard time with something, can we find a good time to discuss?”. 

Masters accept influence. This is a tough one as it requires a good deal of vulnerability, which takes trust. Remember, trust is a load bearing wall that is a part of the Sound Relationship House. Marriage can look like tug a war! So let down the rope in order to reduce power struggles. See my previous blog “Building a Strong Foundation in Your Marriage” to learn all about the Sound Relationship House. Masters find compromise in order to meet in the middle. This could take some creativity, but through collaborating with your partner you can grow closer and have both needs met with compromise.

Masters have a high number of bids for attention and make sure they lean in to their partners bids. Learn more about bids here from the Gottman institute.


Masters are aware of their mind and body! When we are emotionally flooded, we are physically unavailable to use the prefrontal cortex of our brain. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for reasoning, judgment, regulation of thoughts and emotions. It is important to be mindful of what your body feels like when you are flooded and to take a break to calm down. This does not mean to stonewall; stone walling could lead to feelings of emotional neglect. A great way to handle this could look like “man, I am super flooded right now, this is important to me, I really need a break”. It is recommended to allow at least twenty minutes to cool down, always remind your spouse that you will return to the conversation.

We want to make sure that we are aiming towards a 5:1 ratio, 5 times more positive interactions than negative interactions. We want our partner to know that we are truly there to listen and support if they are in emotional pain. The hard part is if we are the culprit, the one that caused the pain. Maintaining a humble spirit will help with this, remember the greatest gift you can give is love.

If you think your relationship could benefit from learning more skills like the Masters, then please reach out to get connected with a couples therapist.

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