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Marriage Counseling Owensboro: First Steps - Abba Healing Services

Marriage Counseling Owensboro: First Steps

by Couples


Looking for marriage counseling in Owensboro and not sure where to begin?  Read on and start falling in love again.


The first step in fixing your relationship in marriage counseling Owensboro


Most couples go through challenging periods in their relationship, whether it is moving in together, dealing with in-laws, having children, or empty nesting.  We are all familiar with the idea of communication needing to be fixed in a conflicted marriage, but is that really the whole problem?   While communication can be a significant part of marriage counseling, it is not all that needs to be done to create a happy and lasting marriage.

According to John Gottman, one of the leading experts in couples, healthy marriages need a lot more than better communication.  So let’s explore the first step in getting your marriage back on track: friendship.


The Research behind the Gottman Method


John Gottman began a highly methodical approach to observing couples in the 1970s.  He developed a coding system and had each partner rate their intentions and the impact of the message on a scale of positivity and negativity.

Later they combined this method with study of the physiological response of each partner and coding systems of facial response and emotion response through video-recall.  In addition, the Gottman lab began to study parenting in combination with marital issues and the impact on children’s development.

The research found that 69% of relationship problems are never resolved.  That is not a doomsday prediction for our marriages though because many couples remain satisfied and happy despite the constant presence of these issues.

Even more surprising, they were able to predict divorce with over a 90% accuracy using a variety of measures.  Most Owensboro marriage counselors could not come close to this number because many marriage counselors use their opinion or theories from books that are not based on scientific evidence.  The Gottman Method is highly effective because it is not based on opinion, but on what actually works.




Over a 14-year study, they found that they could predict WHEN a couple would divorce based on the presence of what was called the Four Horseman and emotional disengagement.  It is difficult and expensive to do a long-term study, but the information gathered is invaluable.  The presence of the Four Horsemen meant that a couple would divorce in an average of 5.6 years after the wedding.  Emotional disengagement resulted in divorce on average 16.2 years after the wedding.

Understand that all relationships experience some of these issues.  But they begin to destroy a relationship if they can stay and fester.  So let’s get to work on this friendship before time runs out!

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Friendship: The Foundation of Relationship


For some, it may sound strange that friendship would be the foundation of a romantic relationship, but if you recall what the early days of your relationship were it may make more sense.

At first, you were just getting to know one another.  You can’t love someone that you don’t know.  Imagine sharing the most secret parts of your life with a stranger.  So at first, we started to test the waters by finding common interests, spending time with each other’s friends, talking about our backgrounds, and spending evenings on the phone.

Not much different than getting to know a best friend.

Then we begin to share our secrets, our fears, our shame, our hopes, and our dreams.  With each new piece of information, we unknowingly test the other to see if they are safe.  Can they really handle me?  Are they going to reject me?

Ultimately, we are building trust and increasing our commitment to one another.

marriage counseling owensboro

Love Maps: The First Step of Marriage Counseling


Gottman calls this process of getting to know each other’s worlds: building love maps.  So what can you do to start building love maps?

  1. Set aside special, uninterrupted time to be with one another. (Some people call this a date. ?)
  2. Start asking each other questions such as:
    • What is my favorite food?
    • Where did we first meet?
    • What was I wearing on our first date?
  3. Have fun with the questions, it is not a competition so don’t rub it in the other’s face if you know significantly more.
  4. The purpose is to better get to know the other person’s world. So if a question is answered incorrectly or is unknown, laugh about it, and gently inform your partner so that they can remember in the future.
  5. Over time, gradually ask more in-depth questions such as:
    • What is my greatest fear at this time?
    • When was the most embarrassing moment of my life?
    • What is something that I would like to accomplish in the next 5 years?

It is crucial to find a natural pace.  It is okay to stop and spend extra time on a question and go further in discussion, but also keep in mind that there may be other questions that need to be asked.


Just the Beginning


This process of building love maps lays the foundation for the rest of what Gottman calls the Sound Relationship House Theory.  All future steps in improving the marriage are based on the first step of knowing the other’s world.  So, spend one or two dates on this topic alone…if not longer!  It can be especially good if you find yourselves laughing which may be something that has been missing in your relationship.

If you have found any of this useful, be sure to sign up to get access to more of this content as it becomes available.  As an Owensboro counseling practice, we produce other content on parenting and family therapy, porn addiction and sex addiction treatment, and PTSD or trauma counseling.  You may be thinking that this all sounds great, but it will be difficult for you to manage on your own or you don’t know where to start.  If you feel that you need a little extra help, reach out to us or schedule an appointment and we will connect you with a Gottman trained clinician who has experience guiding couples into a renewed love for each other.


We are glad you are with us and we are praying for you!


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Ethan D. Bennett is the owner and counselor at Abba Healing Services. Ethan is a father of two, a husband to a beautiful wife, and a life-long learner. Be sure to send Ethan a message as he loves to connect with people.

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