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The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert

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John Gottman has revolutionized the study of marriage by using rigorous scientific procedures to observe the habits of married couples in unprecedented detail over many years. Here is the culmination of his life's work: the seven principles that guide couples on the path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship. Packed with practical questionnaires and exercises, John Gottman has revolutionized the study of marriage by using rigorous scientific procedures to observe the habits of married couples in unprecedented detail over many years. Here is the culmination of his life's work: the seven principles that guide couples on the path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship. Packed with practical questionnaires and exercises, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is the definitive guide for anyone who wants their relationship to attain its highest potential.


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John Gottman has revolutionized the study of marriage by using rigorous scientific procedures to observe the habits of married couples in unprecedented detail over many years. Here is the culmination of his life's work: the seven principles that guide couples on the path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship. Packed with practical questionnaires and exercises, John Gottman has revolutionized the study of marriage by using rigorous scientific procedures to observe the habits of married couples in unprecedented detail over many years. Here is the culmination of his life's work: the seven principles that guide couples on the path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship. Packed with practical questionnaires and exercises, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is the definitive guide for anyone who wants their relationship to attain its highest potential.

30 review for The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert

  1. 4 out of 5

    Billie Pritchett

    John Gottman's Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work provides in detail the ways in which a person could have a healthy marriage and by extension the principles also generally apply to romantic relationships in general and perhaps even just friendships. I'll put this principles in my own words to make them more perspicuous; you can read the book if you want his words. The first principle is to increase your knowledge about each other. You ought to be able to know, for example, who your signif John Gottman's Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work provides in detail the ways in which a person could have a healthy marriage and by extension the principles also generally apply to romantic relationships in general and perhaps even just friendships. I'll put this principles in my own words to make them more perspicuous; you can read the book if you want his words. The first principle is to increase your knowledge about each other. You ought to be able to know, for example, who your significant other doesn't like at work. You should also know his or her life philosophy. And what her deepest dreams are. Etc. The second principle is about nurturing your fondness and admiration for each other. This involves first looking at your partner worthy of dignity and respect. Too often in a relationship you can get hung up on how you don't like your partner's habits or you don't like some of these fundamental differences in attitude he or she has from you. By focusing again on your partner's positive characteristics, reminding yourself why you like or love this person in the first place, will help you re-center your relationship. The third principle is turning to your partner to communicate about the mundane stuff of life. If you haven't begun to or forgotten how to enjoy talking to your partner about your everyday activities or his or her everyday activities, it would be good to re-light that fire, to just be able to talk about work, problems, what you have been thinking about lately, what you saw that day, etc. Gottman writes that everyday you cherish this time and you act encouraging toward your partner at this time, it is like putting money in the emotional bank, which really helps when time gets tough. The fourth principle is letting your partner influence you. Since a relationship is give-and-take, and since it would be a mathematical impossibility for you to be right all the time, be willing to let your partner's decision influence what you think or your actions or whatever. Allowing for this give-and-take and not being obstinate goes a long way. The fifth principle is solving your solvable problems. Some of the problems, say maybe 30%, of the problems you have are solvable problems. This is because they are mainly situational problems. If you begin to make changes in your schedule with respect to each other, or in little ways of doing things, you will be able to deal with each other a lot more easily. The sixth principle is "overcoming gridlock." Probably about 70% of the problems that a couple has together is a matter of deep fundamental differences you two have. It is okay to have differences. For example, perhaps you are someone who is always interested in saving money and your partner is someone who is always interested in having a good time (which occasionally means that spending money won't be an important issue for him or her). You won't be able to change each other about these deep fundamental issues, so it calls for a compromise; this is "overcoming gridlock." You can begin to make compromises regarding this, say, by making a budget together and then allowing each other to freely spend within that budget. (Perhaps this isn't the best example, but it's the best I could do for the moment.) The important thing is is that you work to compromise and get through these differences. The seventh principle is creating "shared meaning." This might not seem very specific, but what Gottman means is that you create a culture in which the two of you live, and if you have children within the three, four, five, nth number of you live. You create rituals for yourself, you celebrate special holidays, you honor certain rites of passage, you create duties and obligations and practices for yourself within your family unit. This is the real, deep stuff that one might call spiritual. Gottman provides a lot of activities and exercises throughout the way, little games that you can play with your partner or with other couples to improve and increase the strength of your relationship. This is a wonderful wonderful book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    If you can get past Gottman's ego in the first few chapters, you'll find some very sensible and useful advice from his extensive study of couples. Some of it seems obvious, some not, but all the content worthwhile to review at some level, probably every 5 years or so. There are even questionnaire/exercises in each chapter. Some key points (from memory) Be friends; invest time daily in knowing what/who's bothering or exciting the other; don't necessarily try to "fix" unresolvable conflicts (you don If you can get past Gottman's ego in the first few chapters, you'll find some very sensible and useful advice from his extensive study of couples. Some of it seems obvious, some not, but all the content worthwhile to review at some level, probably every 5 years or so. There are even questionnaire/exercises in each chapter. Some key points (from memory) Be friends; invest time daily in knowing what/who's bothering or exciting the other; don't necessarily try to "fix" unresolvable conflicts (you don't actually need to to have a great marriage); be aware of negative patterns of communication that creep up (the "four horseman" of criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling), be sure to dive deep into past family patterns & narratives; explore all the hard topics (money, kids, caring for parents); and other stuff.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    I wanted to dislike this book. The title looks like a bald-faced rip-off of Stephen Covey and the author seems to think he's the only person who has ever had a profound thought about marriage. Gottman proclaims that his ideas are different, but there are many similarities between his prescriptions and those of the therapists he disdains. Still, my full head of righteous indignation was wasted, because Gottman won me over by the end. First, some background. Early in my own marriage I took a serie I wanted to dislike this book. The title looks like a bald-faced rip-off of Stephen Covey and the author seems to think he's the only person who has ever had a profound thought about marriage. Gottman proclaims that his ideas are different, but there are many similarities between his prescriptions and those of the therapists he disdains. Still, my full head of righteous indignation was wasted, because Gottman won me over by the end. First, some background. Early in my own marriage I took a series of parenting classes taught by our community's own black-belt of child raising, Linda Jessup. While the focus was parenting, the skills and concepts are the same for marriage (actually they also work at the office, hiring contractors for your house, and many other situations). In these classes I learned many of the skills mentioned in the book, and I can honestly say much of the happiness in my life derives from those early classes. Anyone who has talked to me about relationships has heard me talk about what I call the "OTMC" ("One True Method of Communication"). I learned it from Linda, but I found it to be one of the few consistent threads in all the self-help books I’ve read. The OTMC goes as follows: "When you do _____, I feel ____". It takes some practice, and can easily be misused (things like, "When you act like an idiot, I feel like strangling you" are not the OTMC!), but it really does work. While Gottman initially distances himself from the OTMC, he comes around eventually and I did learn a lot from his treatment ("re-learned" is more accurate). Gottman does a good job explaining that there is more to the OTMC than the sentence structure. These include avoiding what he calls the "harsh startup", and avoiding the words "always" and "never". Linda used to say, "It's easier to build a relationship on respect than on love." Gottman expands on this, and I think he's spot on. He says he can tell the state of a couple's marriage in three minutes of observation. At first I thought that statement was arrogant and far-fetched, but as I read, and remembered Linda's saying, plus the observations I've made of couples I know, I now think it's probably true. Another area of agreement between Linda and Gottman is the concept of the "emotional bank account". I particularly like his concept of "letting your partner influence you". I also liked the idea of "love maps" and the exercises which probe how much you know of the inner thoughts and history of your partner. I think Linda would approve of this book. What I'm not so sure about is whether you can learn these skills effectively from a book. Gottman gives many examples of untrained partners in his book, but that’s not a complete substitute for a trained instructor who can find examples in your own life. Also, the exercises you need to perform to become "trained" are likely to make you feel awkward and uncomfortable, so book readers may skip them. In a class, everybody is embarrassed, but you get through it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    I'm confused by John Gottman. His work is mentioned respectfully by sociologists and other therapists: he went into his Love Lab and figured out what makes relationships fall apart, it's kind of revolutionary. And then the big insight is that if people get really worked up about mundane disagreements to the point that they're making shitty personal attacks on their partner or shutting down and not engaging in the discussion, the marriage is probably not going to work. It's less a primer on how t I'm confused by John Gottman. His work is mentioned respectfully by sociologists and other therapists: he went into his Love Lab and figured out what makes relationships fall apart, it's kind of revolutionary. And then the big insight is that if people get really worked up about mundane disagreements to the point that they're making shitty personal attacks on their partner or shutting down and not engaging in the discussion, the marriage is probably not going to work. It's less a primer on how to make marriage work and more on how to have conversations like an adult. Which I mean fine, I'm sure there's a market for guides on interpersonal relations for the emotionally stunted. I just hope that the advice in here is tailored to be comprehensible to that audience and Gottman doesn't actually believe a lot of this stuff. Otherwise this is more interesting as a meta-psychology text on the dysfunctional relationship ideas a respected researcher actually holds. I dunno, maybe I'm the crazy one: he's the professor and I'm just some guy. But he's also from a different generation, and I feel like a lot of the practical advice comes off as circa 1950s datedness. Emotional labor belongs to the aggrieved spouse. The way it's pitched in Seven Principles is that when your husband doesn't do the laundry for the nth goddamn time even though you told him to, it's your responsibility to broach the subject amicably so that the conversation doesn't get emotionally charged. Not that it's his responsibility to hear the criticism like the adult he ostensibly is and handle it in a mature way. You've gotta do the laundry because he didn't, and you also have to work to be okay with that. I hope that this is canted the way it is deliberately, like that the husband keeps shutting down in conversations, so your self-help book has to extend him an olive branch so that he can interact with it productively. Women enjoy emotional labor because of hunter-gatherer societies. I don't know why this is even in here. It's not supported by any kind of experimental results from his research because it's evo-psych handwaviness, which is never supported by any kind of experimental results. I hazard the guess that it's an attempt to allow the reader to intellectualize the differences in communication style between themselves and their spouse? How about just "some people respond differently to conflict, and that's fine" with no need for the tooth fairy. You should clean your house so that your wife will fuck you. Really? We're doing the quid pro quo thing now? The argument is not that you should do your share of housework because you care about your partner's comfort and value your shared living space--no, you should know that research shows greater sexual frequency in partnerships where the man does more cleaning. It's just so tactless and dated, a leering drunken uncle mumbling about your sex life. I'm forced to conclude that either this is deliberately pandering to the heteronormative ownership paradigm, like these are the terms he feels he has to use with his target audience, or that John Gottman himself is an emotionally retarded weirdo. Overall I get the feeling that this is intended for the sort of people who get into screaming matches with their partners in Wal-Mart parking lots because they bought the wrong brand of bottled water, and you only did it because you don't care about me, you're just like your drunk of a father and you're going to die alone, I hate you etc. If you're already an adult in non-chronological ways there isn't much here. Gottman frequently refers to "Four Horsemen," the major signs that a relationship is going to end; I can't remember them other than contempt, but my partner and I have adopted the term sarcastically, e.g. "honey why didn't you like my Facebook post; not liking my Facebook posts is one of the Four Horsemen." I didn't take anything away other than that.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Krishna Chaitanya

    Most of the material and practical advice provided in this book made me very uncomfortable to follow and put it into practice, I guess the old saying is correct indeed, you need to be uncomfortable at times to make your lives better. This book offers seven principles to cope with your marriage and improve it for betterment. Each principle has a questionnaire to evaluate where your relationship stand in terms of a positive aspect which is essential for a good marital relationship and it also inclu Most of the material and practical advice provided in this book made me very uncomfortable to follow and put it into practice, I guess the old saying is correct indeed, you need to be uncomfortable at times to make your lives better. This book offers seven principles to cope with your marriage and improve it for betterment. Each principle has a questionnaire to evaluate where your relationship stand in terms of a positive aspect which is essential for a good marital relationship and it also includes fun exercises and games which needs to be participated by both spouses which helps to solidify your understanding on one another and learn more about each other. A detailed list of dos and don'ts are included to make your partner safe and comfortable around you. The important lessons I have learnt about marriage in this book are: - Learn about your partners interests, preferences, important milestones and achievements to improve your love maps - For better quality of your personal life, build a habit of appreciation for your partner's good deeds, admire and celebrate your partner's achievements - During a conflict, use a softened start-up, be specific about what upset you but don't generalize. - While arguing make sure your heart-rate is around 80, if it crossed more than 100, let your partner know that you'll continue this discussion after a while, take a pause for 20 minutes, practice breathing exercises and concentrate on the good characteristics of your partner - Two types of problems raises in marriage, temporary/solvable problems and perpetual/gridlock problems. For a happy relationship, it is crucial to understand the differentiating ambitions and shared values and have a common ground and compromise for making each other happy. It is not an easy read to stomach, happy marriage comes at a cost of shared efforts, sacrifices and compromises.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Frank Calberg

    Takeaways from reading the book: Principle # 1: Find out who your partner is. Examples of questions to ask: 1. What is your favorite app? Why? 2. What stresses you the most in your life? Why? 3. What is the best way for you to relax? Why? 4. What emotions do you feel about work you do? Why? 5. How would you design your perfect home? Why? 6. Who are your 2 best friends? Why? Principle # 2: Express admiration for your partner. - Page 74 and 283: Say thank you to your partner. - Page 82: Express appreciatio Takeaways from reading the book: Principle # 1: Find out who your partner is. Examples of questions to ask: 1. What is your favorite app? Why? 2. What stresses you the most in your life? Why? 3. What is the best way for you to relax? Why? 4. What emotions do you feel about work you do? Why? 5. How would you design your perfect home? Why? 6. Who are your 2 best friends? Why? Principle # 2: Express admiration for your partner. - Page 74 and 283: Say thank you to your partner. - Page 82: Express appreciation for what you like about your partner. Examples: 1. A time your partner supported you well. 2. A physical attribute you like about your partner. - Page 161: Be as kind towards your partner as you are towards other people. Example: If your partner spills water on the table cloth, say "would you like some more water?" instead of "can't you be more careful?" Principle 3: Turn towards your partner. - Page 94: Do things together. 2 examples: 1. When you have dinner with your partner, ask her or him how her or his day went. 2. Plan house improvements with your partner. - Page 99: Show understanding when your partner talks. Two examples: 1. Listen. 2. Say "that could happen to anyone." - Page 104: Ask for more information. Two examples: 1. Can you say more about that, please? 2. How did you feel in that situation? - Page 105: Repeat what your partner says. Example: "I hear you say that you feel stress because you have to do your own work as well as the work of the leader. Do I understand that correctly?" - Page 220: Stay connected when you become parents. Examples: 1. When a woman shifts into her new role as a mother, the man also needs to be both a husband and a father. 2. To have time together, invite a person to take care of / learn with your child once in a while. Principle # 4: Let your partner influence you. Page 125: A shift in gender roles is happening around the world. Example of question to ask yourselves: How are you helping each other make decisions? Principle # 5: Solve problems / challenges that are possible to solve. - Pages 143 and 185: When you come across a problem / challenge, explain to your partner what you need and wish: "I wish that... Is that possible?" - Page 164: Take responsibility for a problem, for example by saying "I know this is not all your fault. I know I play a role in this issue as well." - Page 201: When tension arises between a) a man's partner and ) the man's mother, the reason is often that the two women battle for the man's love. The solution to this challenge is this: The man must take the side of his partner. He a partner - then a son. In other words, his partner comes first. His mother's emotions may be hurt by this, but sooner or later she will get used to it and adjust to this reality. Principle # 6: Overcome gridlock. Page 242, 250 and 258 ff.: Gridlock is a sign that each of you has needs that the other person a) is not aware of, b) has not acknowledged or c) does not respect. The challenge is to understand what the other person's needs, for example by asking questions such as "What do you need?" Then the challenge is to respect those needs. Method to solve a challenge that a couple has: 1. Define the problem / challenge. 2. Each person explains his / her needs. 3. Each person explains a) what is not negotiable for him / her, and b) what he / she is flexible about. 4. Write a temporary compromise that you agree to try out a brief period of time. 5. Say thank you for what you appreciate about your partner. Principle # 7: Create a shared purpose. - Page 252: 3 levels of becoming a part of your partner's purpose: 1. Express understanding and interest in learning more about the purpose of your partner. 2. Offer to help your partner find her or his purpose. 3. Become a part of your partner's purpose. - Page 275: Three questions that help you find your purpose: 1. What goals do you have for yourself? 2. What goals do you have for your relationship? 3. What do you think of when you hear the word "home"? What does home mean to you? Tips to calm down a heated discussion. Pages 27, 173-177, 193 and 284: 1. Express emotions you feel. 2. Say openly when you need to calm down. 3. Ask your partner for help to calm down. Examples: "Can you please be gentler with me?" "Can you please help me calm down?" 4, Say openly when you need to take a break. Examples: "I need a break." "I will make a cup of tea." 5. Say openly when you are sorry. Example: "Sorry, I was wrong." 6. Laugh about yourself. 7. Hug your partner. 8. Express that you want to get to yes by respecting needs of each one of you. Example: "Let us find out which of the needs, each one of us has, are related to each other." 9. Say what you appreciate. Example: "I would like to thank you for..." Other research from reading the book: - Page 21: At the heart of the 7 principles is the fact that a great partnership is based on deep friendship, i.e. mutual respect for and enjoyment of the other's company. Friendship promotes positive emotions, and friendship fuels the flames of romance. - Page 282: Many people feel that they are not good enough. People, who feel that they are not good enough, search for what is wrong with themselves. What we need to do is accept who we are - including accepting everything we don't like about ourselves. Forgive yourself.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    An excellent book that I think married and single people who would like to one day marry should read! John Gottman and Nan Silver studied marriages for over twenty years, following the same couples. They observed how the couples talked to each other...the every day chit chat, the serious conversations and even the fights. What they curiously observed is that fighting is not what breaks marriages up. In fact, fighting can be good for marriages in some ways. What they did find is that in the couple An excellent book that I think married and single people who would like to one day marry should read! John Gottman and Nan Silver studied marriages for over twenty years, following the same couples. They observed how the couples talked to each other...the every day chit chat, the serious conversations and even the fights. What they curiously observed is that fighting is not what breaks marriages up. In fact, fighting can be good for marriages in some ways. What they did find is that in the couples who remained married and reported being happily married, there were elements of behavior present that aided in getting through disagreements and fights. In the marriages that ended or were unhappy, there were elements that were also present that contributed to the breakdown of the relationship. I learned a lot from reading this book. I studied law before I began practicing it, so why not study marriage before embarking on a lifetime with someone? The best part of the book is that if you and your partner are BOTH willing to do so, you can learn to incorporate the seven principles into your life together so that you can love each other, even when you are in disagreement or a difficult time. It's in workbook style, so it takes some work if you read it as a couple, but if you're open minded and you make yourself vulnerable to your mate, it's worth the process!

  8. 4 out of 5

    John Brown

    Back in April of this year, Dr. Liz Hale, a licensed clinical psychologist, started her remarks to a local audience of more than 100 mental health professionals by saying, “Dear fellow colleagues, you are in danger of having an affair.” Her point was that every marriage, even those of the marriage gurus, is vulnerable to infidelity–be it sexual or emotional. Individuals have to actively curb all the subtle and often innocent beginnings that lead to unfaithfulness. “We make the mistake of thinking Back in April of this year, Dr. Liz Hale, a licensed clinical psychologist, started her remarks to a local audience of more than 100 mental health professionals by saying, “Dear fellow colleagues, you are in danger of having an affair.” Her point was that every marriage, even those of the marriage gurus, is vulnerable to infidelity–be it sexual or emotional. Individuals have to actively curb all the subtle and often innocent beginnings that lead to unfaithfulness. “We make the mistake of thinking (marital) vows will keep us safe; and they don’t,” she said. She went on to say that couples cannot depend on love or similarities to keep their marriage intact. It’s not enough. Emotional or sexual infidelity isn’t as rare as we might think. But even if we don’t stray into some type of unfaithfulness, that doesn’t mean a marriage will stay together. Like anything worth having, a good relationship takes work. But what kind of work? What are the key principles for making a marriage last? For many years the prescriptions of marriage gurus were based on anecdotal evidence and rules of thumb—on opinion. Because the opinions weren’t tested, they led to all sorts of errors. For example, many yet believe that the road to marital bliss is through communication, specifically through successful conflict resolution. According to this idea, happy couples are those that have learned to resolve all their conflicts in a nice manner. The problem is that when conflict resolution was put to the test, the studies showed it didn’t work. Marriage therapies based on conflict resolution share a very low success rate—over the long haul they only work about 20% of the time. So what does work? John Gottman is a marriage counselor who took a different approach and started to collect rigorous scientific evidence on over 650 couples, tracking the fate of their marriages for up to fourteen years. The results of his work are startling. He uncovered a number of relationship myths, including the one about communication. He found that happy marriages were never perfect unions. These satisfied couples often had differences in temperament, interests, and family values. They argued over money, kids, and housekeeping, just like unhappy couples did. They had problems and faced issues. However, all these satisfied couples also practiced seven principles, even if they didn’t know it, which helped them navigate their way through all the difficulties and keep their marriages happy and stable. And it’s not just opinion. The success rate for the type of marital therapy based on his research is 80%. He knows what makes marriages work and has written it up in a fabulous book called The Seven Principles For Making A Marriage Work. Every marriage is vulnerable to failure. It takes work to enjoy a satisfying relationship with a spouse. But it’s so much easier to improve and maintain a relationship when you’re working on the things that actually make a difference. If you want to improve your marriage, give Gottman’s book a read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jared

    My favorite quote in the whole book: “Working briefly on your marriage every day will do more for your health and longevity than working out at a health club” (p. 261). Overall, one of the better books I've seen on fostering a happy marriage. A very useful read for any couple seeking to improve their conflict resolution skills or just strengthen their relationship. Gottman's principles are supported by some of the best research anywhere on marital relations, although he's obviously very proud of My favorite quote in the whole book: “Working briefly on your marriage every day will do more for your health and longevity than working out at a health club” (p. 261). Overall, one of the better books I've seen on fostering a happy marriage. A very useful read for any couple seeking to improve their conflict resolution skills or just strengthen their relationship. Gottman's principles are supported by some of the best research anywhere on marital relations, although he's obviously very proud of his research (e.g., frequent statements like "I don't have to guess anymore about why some couples stay so happily married. I know why.") Some of the highlights: * Distinction between perpetual and solvable problems in marriages; most problems fall in the "perpetual" (unresolvable) category and are often a rehashing of some fundamental personal and marital issues that need to be carefully addressed. * Happily married couples can have significant disagreements and arguments; it's the way these arguments are conducted (maintaining respect, avoiding criticism, being willing to be influenced by your spouse) that matters. In other words, it's not that couples with strong marriages don't argue or disagree, it's that they do so in a spirit of respect and quick reconciliation. A strong foundation of real friendship in marriage makes this possible. * You can't save your marriage just by learning to communicate more sensitively; being an empathetic communicator helps, but it's not the most critical thing in resolving conflicts. * The "Four Horsemen" of significant marital problems: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling (very common tactic in men). This book would be one of my first recommendations for couples seeking to improve their relationship.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    Why is it considered normal to consult a manual and put work into maintaining a car, but not a relationship? This book can be pretty cheesey a lot of the time, but it contains lots of exercises, is easy to read, and is based on principles and evidence that is highly regarded in the field (which surprised me). From his experimental "love lab", Gottman observed tons of couples that worked and didn't. His findings inform the book. Some nuggets: - most arguments cannot be resolved - biggest predictors o Why is it considered normal to consult a manual and put work into maintaining a car, but not a relationship? This book can be pretty cheesey a lot of the time, but it contains lots of exercises, is easy to read, and is based on principles and evidence that is highly regarded in the field (which surprised me). From his experimental "love lab", Gottman observed tons of couples that worked and didn't. His findings inform the book. Some nuggets: - most arguments cannot be resolved - biggest predictors of divorce are: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, failure of repair attempts, and stonewalling. - an affair is a sign, not a cause, of marital problems - having the first baby decreases marital satisfaction most times! - foster admiration and fondness of each other - men don't allow in women's influence enough - solve your solvable problems, such as: stress, inlaws (be a husband first, son second), money, sex (person with least interest should have most control), housework, and becoming parents ("A child is a grenade"). - overcome "gridlock" on unsolvable conflicts, basically trying to cope as best you can - create shared meaning

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rachelle

    I probably should rank this book higher. I think the principles are sound and obviously well researched. I imagine that everything he says in here is true. It's just not the kind of marriage book that inspires me. It is too much of "do this and don't do this" rather than providing inspiration and perspective on marriage. For example one chapter talks about chores that he does/she does and contains a list of chores that you can go through with your spouse to determine what is fair. Stuff like tha I probably should rank this book higher. I think the principles are sound and obviously well researched. I imagine that everything he says in here is true. It's just not the kind of marriage book that inspires me. It is too much of "do this and don't do this" rather than providing inspiration and perspective on marriage. For example one chapter talks about chores that he does/she does and contains a list of chores that you can go through with your spouse to determine what is fair. Stuff like that really ends up making me far more stressed about the issue than I was before. Some of the exercises look like fun and/or helpful and I do think this book could really be good if a couple sat down and did it together. I like the part where he talks about how happily married couples don't necessarily have to "solve" every problem and that clear communication (i.e. using "I" statements) is not necessarily the key to marital bliss. There were some good parts... it just really wasn't my cup o' tea.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lacey Louwagie

    Although part of me thinks I shouldn't read so many books about marriage before I'm married (it can be depressing to sift through all the potential problems that are being addressed in these self-help books), I'm also drawn to them because it's so hard for me to wrap my head around the reality of marriage, and I've always been someone for whom research has provided much reassurance and comfort. So, although I might be putting the cart before the horse, I really like to get things right! As far as Although part of me thinks I shouldn't read so many books about marriage before I'm married (it can be depressing to sift through all the potential problems that are being addressed in these self-help books), I'm also drawn to them because it's so hard for me to wrap my head around the reality of marriage, and I've always been someone for whom research has provided much reassurance and comfort. So, although I might be putting the cart before the horse, I really like to get things right! As far as self-help/relationship books go, this is of the caliber that I like best -- based on years of sound research with a proven track record. John Gottman is referenced in nearly every relationship book out there, and with good reason. Within a few minutes, he can predict with 91% accuracy whether a couple will stay married or not, and he uses the results of all his research to clue couples in on the groundwork they need to lay to avoid such a fate (and how to turn things around if the dangerous "warning signs" do pop up). While some of it seems like common sense, some of it is surprising: such as the finding that some VERY common relationship advice (such as the importance of active listening, needing to share common interests, etc.) doesn't actually have the track record to back it up. I listened to the audio version of this, and it doesn't translate particularly well to audio. There are a lot of exercises and such in it that you're supposed to stop and do, but the whole point of an audio book is that you can listen to it *while* you're busy with other things (dishes, driving, etc.) So I didn't do any of the exercises, and I spaced out during some of them, but when I did listen, it at least gave me some insight into aspects of myself or my relationship that I might not have looked at in such particular terms otherwise. At any rate, if you're looking for research or advice on marriage, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Gottman, and I hope to continue learning from his work.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    Hands down the best most practical marriage advice book I've ever read. I will be reading it again and giving it away. I've read Gottman's work before, but this book is essential to anyone whose marriage isn't perfect. Hands down the best most practical marriage advice book I've ever read. I will be reading it again and giving it away. I've read Gottman's work before, but this book is essential to anyone whose marriage isn't perfect.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lena

    Dr. John Gottman became famous for his work in Seattle's "Love Lab," a research apartment wired with cameras he used to observe how volunteer couples communicated with one another. Through his observations, Gottman discovered patterns of communication that correlate with lasting relationships. Among Gottman’s observations was that the frequency of a couple’s fights had less to do with relationship success than other factors including whether or not they had compatible styles of dealing with conf Dr. John Gottman became famous for his work in Seattle's "Love Lab," a research apartment wired with cameras he used to observe how volunteer couples communicated with one another. Through his observations, Gottman discovered patterns of communication that correlate with lasting relationships. Among Gottman’s observations was that the frequency of a couple’s fights had less to do with relationship success than other factors including whether or not they had compatible styles of dealing with conflict, whether the partners engaged in certain destructive communication behaviors Gottman labeled "the four horsemen of the apocalypse," and how successful partners were in responding to what he calls breakdown "repair attempts." It’s been a while since I read this book, but I recall it as having a lot of useful, down-to-earth information for improving communication in intimate relationships.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    This book reads like intro to therapy concepts for (perhaps ideally boomer) heterosexual couples. The activities seem to be the best and most useful aspect, while I found many of the rationalizations for why (cisgender, heterosexual) men and women behave the way they do to be reductionist, regressive and old-school (for example, claiming the reason girls play family-centered games and have pretend weddings as kids is due to biology... really?). I enjoyed listening to add perspective to relations This book reads like intro to therapy concepts for (perhaps ideally boomer) heterosexual couples. The activities seem to be the best and most useful aspect, while I found many of the rationalizations for why (cisgender, heterosexual) men and women behave the way they do to be reductionist, regressive and old-school (for example, claiming the reason girls play family-centered games and have pretend weddings as kids is due to biology... really?). I enjoyed listening to add perspective to relationship problem solving, and I will reiterate I think the activities seemed like good structured way to build relationship strength (or manage conflict resolution), but I would caution this to be used in conjunction with other more progressive perspectives, tools and methods.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    I first read about Gottman's marriage research in Maclom Gladwell's Blink. Since I am interested in all things social science, I picked up this book at the library. The content is interesting and applicable, even if some/much of it feels common sense. The biggest downfall of the book is Gottman's egoistic prose. (He has been at the forefront of research in his field - and I would have believed him the first time he mentioned it.) I first read about Gottman's marriage research in Maclom Gladwell's Blink. Since I am interested in all things social science, I picked up this book at the library. The content is interesting and applicable, even if some/much of it feels common sense. The biggest downfall of the book is Gottman's egoistic prose. (He has been at the forefront of research in his field - and I would have believed him the first time he mentioned it.)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Garone

    I started out loving this, despite the fact that Gottman's ego is ginormous. When he suggests couples bond by gossiping about other people, it goes downhill fast. I only got about half way through CD 3 before calling it quits. (on his book, not my marriage) I started out loving this, despite the fact that Gottman's ego is ginormous. When he suggests couples bond by gossiping about other people, it goes downhill fast. I only got about half way through CD 3 before calling it quits. (on his book, not my marriage)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lars

    I haven't read a lot of marital counselling books, yet I feel good about claiming that this one is the best one out there. This has been one of the most enlightening and thought-provoking books I've ever read. The best part is: It's simple and practical. He doesn't dwell on complext theories of romantic love and its components--he focuses on what's been shown to make marriages work. I haven't read a lot of marital counselling books, yet I feel good about claiming that this one is the best one out there. This has been one of the most enlightening and thought-provoking books I've ever read. The best part is: It's simple and practical. He doesn't dwell on complext theories of romantic love and its components--he focuses on what's been shown to make marriages work.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Shady Elyaski

    Please read that book if you are in a relationship! If you really think you are really good at it, you are not! Your relationship might die if you don't work on it. So please make yourself a favor and learn how you can get better. Please read that book if you are in a relationship! If you really think you are really good at it, you are not! Your relationship might die if you don't work on it. So please make yourself a favor and learn how you can get better.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    This is not just a book for professionals, its for anyone who wants to make their marriage stronger. Its easy to use, and easy to buy into. John and Julie Gottman have spent over 40 years researching, writing about, and working with couples, and they are the hallmark of what they do - creating marriages that last and sustain. I am teaching the Gottman Method tomorrow, and I enjoyed this read and learned a lot. But this is one of those books a person grows with, just because. This is also my June This is not just a book for professionals, its for anyone who wants to make their marriage stronger. Its easy to use, and easy to buy into. John and Julie Gottman have spent over 40 years researching, writing about, and working with couples, and they are the hallmark of what they do - creating marriages that last and sustain. I am teaching the Gottman Method tomorrow, and I enjoyed this read and learned a lot. But this is one of those books a person grows with, just because. This is also my June Decathlon Pick - I have been married for 22 years this September, and the last decade has been all about this partnership and my family. Adding in the teaching doesn't hurt either. Even if that new feature was just in the last month of the last decade, its been a life dream to teach on the graduate level, so that is pretty cool. I am teaching ten weeks of couples counseling and am loving it. Within a couple of weeks I happen to be teaching on neurodiversity and emotional intelligence in couples. So who knows - this course might help me meet another challenge too...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Knutson

    I think the takeaway is that Austin and I are incredibly compatible!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sally Isabel

    Try reading this book single, and then reading it again with your partner once you're coupled and you'll likely get good results. The book is an even balance of theory and practice exercises. For this review, I'm going to focus on the theory as I haven't had the opportunity to try the exercises out with a partner. Here are some of my takeaways: 1. Having a baby is hard on a relationship: "about 67% of couples experience a large drop in marital satisfaction in the three years after the birth of the Try reading this book single, and then reading it again with your partner once you're coupled and you'll likely get good results. The book is an even balance of theory and practice exercises. For this review, I'm going to focus on the theory as I haven't had the opportunity to try the exercises out with a partner. Here are some of my takeaways: 1. Having a baby is hard on a relationship: "about 67% of couples experience a large drop in marital satisfaction in the three years after the birth of their first baby." (p. xvi) 2. The ability to hear and accept repair attempts is essential for keeping a relationship happy and healthy. Fondness and admiration for your partner is equally important. Pages 176-8 have a useful list of repair attempt phrases that can be used when in a heated discussion to give pause and cool things off. 3. The stress relieving conversation (pp. 98 - 103) should be taught in school. It's a technique, not just for romantic relationships, but any human relationship. It's a basic outline of an emotionally intelligent way to listen to and support someone who's going through a low moment. Basically, it's about letting the person who's low know that what they are feeling is OK and that you accept them, despite this low moment. 4. Men must be willing to share the power in a relationship and allow the woman to have influence: "Statistically speaking, when a man is not willing to share power with his partner there is an 81% chance that his marriage will self-destruct." (p. 116) In the same vein, the more emotionally intelligent the husband, the better the marriage. While far from great, things appear to be improving: "About 35% of the men we've studied are emotionally intelligent. Research from previous decades suggests the number used to be much lower." (p. 123) Hopefully this trajectory continues. 5. While the majority of men would benefit by sharing more of the power with women, many women would benefit by softening their start-up. This means making a gentle complaint (about a specific action or lack thereof) rather than a harsh criticism of their spouse's person, when upset. Some examples of soft start-ups shared on p. 165 include: (1) I share some responsibility for this... (2) Here's how I feel... (3) here's what I need... (as opposed to a negative, here's what I don't need). 6. Taking time to sooth each other is so healthy for your relationship. Massage is probably the best way to do this. Your spouse will come to associate you with feelings of relaxation rather than stress. (p. 182) 7. The problem with porn: "research indicates habitual porn use hurts the nature and quality of sex in relationships [...] The impact of habitually masturbating to porn includes: less frequent sex, less sexual communication, less mutually satisfying sex, and increased risk of betrayal." (p. 199) 8. The mother-in-law problem: "The only way out of this dilemma is for the husband to side with his wife against his mother. Although this may sound harsh, remember that one of the basic tasks of a marriage is to establish a sens of "we-nee" between husband and wife. So the husband must let his mother know that his wife does indeed come first." (p. 202) "An important part of putting your spouse first and building this sense of solidarity is to not tolerate any contempt toward your spouse from your parents." (p. 204) 9. Housework: "women find a man's willingness to do housework extremely erotic. When the husband does his share to maintain the home, both he and his wife report a more satisfying sex life than in marriages where the wife believes her husband is not doing his share. In these relationships, the women also have significantly lower heart rates during martial arguments, which means they are less likely to begin a discussion harshly and so avoid triggering that whole downward spiral of conflict involving the four housemen and flooding that leads to divorce." (p. 214) 10. No sex tonight: "... if [a husband] complains, sulks, or otherwise subjects [the wife] to a negative payoff whenever she declines his overtures, they end up having sex about once every three weeks. But if he actually rewards her no with a small positive payoff (i.e. expressing understanding or asking what she would like to do), their rate soars to four time a week. Counter-intuitive as it sounds, the results suggest that husbands who reward their wives for saying no will end up having a lot more sex!" (p. 235) If I were summarize the message of the book in one word: Gentleness

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brittney

    I did not love Gottman as a person, but this did help me see my areas in need of improvement. After reading this, I'm working on softened startups in arguments, accepting influence in parenting choices, putting my phone down when we're together, and cleaning more. I did not love Gottman as a person, but this did help me see my areas in need of improvement. After reading this, I'm working on softened startups in arguments, accepting influence in parenting choices, putting my phone down when we're together, and cleaning more.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kristin Boldon

    Not scintillating reading, and JG is pretty self confident, and despite efforts to tone down binary sexism it still is pretty apparent, BUT a useful and necessary book that helped my spouse and I plug some of the holes in our leaky boat of a 22 year marriage in this pandemic year. One for the permanent shelf.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    The author thinks rather highly of himself and his research, but as annoying as his attitude is, he does make some excellent points. I've been married for almost eleven years, and while I consider my marriage to be quite healthy, I definitely found this book to be helpful and informative. The author thinks rather highly of himself and his research, but as annoying as his attitude is, he does make some excellent points. I've been married for almost eleven years, and while I consider my marriage to be quite healthy, I definitely found this book to be helpful and informative.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Miki

    No the most positive outlook on marriage. Made it seem like men are lazy and women are shrews. Did not get much out of this one. It is hard to apply stereotypes to my relationship.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joey

    Objectively antiquated and heteronormative. Subjectively helpful because I'm in a fairly traditional marriage. I'm glad I read it, but I won't be quick to recommend it. Objectively antiquated and heteronormative. Subjectively helpful because I'm in a fairly traditional marriage. I'm glad I read it, but I won't be quick to recommend it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    PhilorChelsy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Liked a lot. This was one that made me feel, 'ah, now I see why that marriage is working for so-and-so...' or 'of course! of course I'l always felt that bit of advice wasn't quite right, and he's helped explain why!' It helped me see why some marriages that don't seem very functional, are, in their own way. And have positive attributes going for them. Maybe any two people who work at it, CAN in fact maintain a healthy marriage. "One of the saddest reasons a marriage dies is that neither spouse rec Liked a lot. This was one that made me feel, 'ah, now I see why that marriage is working for so-and-so...' or 'of course! of course I'l always felt that bit of advice wasn't quite right, and he's helped explain why!' It helped me see why some marriages that don't seem very functional, are, in their own way. And have positive attributes going for them. Maybe any two people who work at it, CAN in fact maintain a healthy marriage. "One of the saddest reasons a marriage dies is that neither spouse recognizes its value until it is too late. Only after the papers have been signed, the furniture divided, and separate apartments rented do the exes realize how much they really gave up when they gave up on each other. Too often a good marriage is taken for granted rather than given the nurturing and respect it deserves and desperately needs." I found their marriage myths interesting...and to a common technique used to help marriages: active listening; he states most happily married couples they studied did anything but actively listen when they were angry. True! ...because he person being bashed behind all of those kind "I" statements is the spouse, and they don't want to listen to it when they are angry, no matter how kindly stated. "...happy marriages are based on deep friendship. By this I mean a mutual respect for and enjoyment of each other's company." pg 20. He goes on to talk about a marriage that is built on little daily humdrum and seemingly unromantic things like him calling to see how an appointment went and her asking how a meeting went and him making breakfast, but leaving out an ingredient he knows she dislikes. He says these are things that maintain friendship. "Friendship fuels the flames of romance because it offers the best protection against feeling adversarial toward your spouse....Their positivity causes them to feel optimistic about each other and their marriage, to assume positive things about their lives together, and to give each other the benefit of the doubt." Getting these positive feelings of friendship back are what he's all about. "repair attempt. This name refers to any statement or action- silly or otherwise- that prevents negativity from escalating out of control." Even my kids unknowingly use this. When one child knows I'm upset, she gets a sad face and says, "I need a hug." Once in an argument, my husband grabbed one of my self-help books off my shelf, sat down by the door so I couldn't leave, and opened it up to read. When I asked what he was doing, he pouted and said, "I just want to make you happy, and I'm not sure what to do!" I laughed. His repair attempt worked. One of the best pieces of advice I feel he gives: "Most marital arguments cannot be resolved." "Couples spend year after year trying to change each other's mind- but it can't be done. This is because most of their disagreements are rooted in fundamental differences of lifestyle, personality, or values. By fighting over these differences all they succeed in doing is wasting their time and harming their marriage." "This doesn't mean there is nothing you can do if your relationship has been overrun by conflict. But it does mean that the typical conflict-resolution advice won't help. Instead, you need to understand the bottom-line difference that is causing the conflict between you- and learn how to live with it by honoring and respecting each other." Makes me think of the advice: I didn't marry you because I though you would one day become just like me, I married you because you are you! Principle One: "...intimately familiar with each other's world....They remember the major events in each others history, and they keep updating their information as teh facts and feelings of their spouses world changes....They know each others goals in life, each others worries, each other's hopes." one way to keep this up is to choose sets of questions like "What is your dream for 5 yrs" or "what is your favorite meal" and ask each other on a date night. Principle Two: "By simply reminding yourself of your spouse's positive qualities- even as you grapple with each other's flaws- you can prevent a happy marriage from deteriorating. The simple reason is that fondness and admiration are antidotes for contempt. If you maintain a sense of respect for your spouse, you are less likely to act disgusted with him or her when you disagree." Just thinking and talking about positive feelings towards your partner can immediately make things positive. Principle Three: Turn toward each other, in little ways, instead of away. The dull things! Read the paper together, discuss the weather together, chat during dinner. All of this builds up good feelings towards each other in your emotional bank account (works for kids too!). It is the secret to reconnecting with your partner. While most people think a romantic night out or getaway is what they need, those only work only when the couple has kept up daily. Principle Four: "...the happiest and most stable marriages in the long run were those where the husband treated his wife [and the other way around, but read his stuff, it was mostly the husbands on this point] with respect and did not resist power sharing and decision making with her. When the couple disagreed, these husbands actively searched for common ground rather than insisting on getting their way. "...it certainly makes sense for both partners to avoid escalating conflicts in this way [using criticism, contempt, defensiveness, or ignoring], the bottom line is that husbands put their marriage at added risk when they do." Interesting, makes sense if you think about it. With children as well to a point. When husbands and wives feel connected to turn to each other in happy and sad moments. Children will too. "More than 80% of the time it's the wife who brings up sticky marital issues, while the husband tries to avoid discussing them. This isn't a symptom of a troubled marriage- it's true in most happy marriages as well." Two kinds of problems: Solvable or not solvable: Not solvable can become a gridlock in your marriage: and issue that makes you feel rejected by your spouse, you are unbending, frustrated, hurt, and just get more unbudgeable as time goes on. All of this is telling you there is a profound difference between you that needs to be addressed before you can put the problem in it's place. Solvable is usually less painful because it is focused more on a simple issue. "The basis for coping effectively with either kind of problem is the same: Communicating basic acceptance of your partner's personality." Of course, this is why you married them in the first place isn't it! Your spouse must also feel understood and casored for first. Principle Five: Solve the solvable: basically "...having good manners. It means treating your spouse with the same respect you offer to company." 1-Start the discussion with NO criticism or contempt. Doesn't have to be cute and sweet, it can be "Hey, I can be a slob too, but I'm so angry that you walked by the full laundry basket three times tonight and didn't fold a single towel!" "...discussions invariably end on the same note they began." ...so... soften the startup! "...if your spouse tends to raise issues harshly, the best advice I can give is to make sure he/she is feeling known, respected, and loved by you, and that you accept her influence." 2-Repair attempts if things get out of control 3-take a break- for 20 min or so, and don't think about the issue for that time.... 4- Compromise "...the cornerstone of any compromise is...accepting influence....you have to be honestly open to considering his or her position." List one or two things about the issue that you won't budge on....and then all the things that you will compromise on about it. Find the common goals. Whatever the issue, be it housework duties to parenting, write it out. 5- "Until you accept your partner's flaws and foibles, you will not be able to compromise successfully...it is not about one person changing, it's about negotiating, finding common ground and ways that you can accommodate each other." A quote I really liked: "Many well meaning experts recommend that you consider marriage and family a balancing act...with baby on one end and your marriage on the other. Couples are counseled to spend some time away from the baby and focus on...anything but the baby at home....but they are of one cloth. Yes, the couple should spend time away from the baby occasionally. But if they are making [the transition to parenthood] well together, they will find that they can't stop talking about the baby, nor do they want to....The important thing here is that they are in it together." Principle 6: "The gridlocked conflict will probably always be a perpetual issue with your marriage, but one day you will be able to talk about it without hurting each other. You will learn to live with the problem." gridlock is showing that you had plans for your life that aren't being addressed or respected by your spouse: maybe big (religion), practical (wanting to always have a certain amount of savings), or something that makes you feel secure or loved, which would probably be something you have grown up with or without. "Keep working on your unresolvable conflicts. Couples who are demanding of their marriages are more likely to have deeply satisfying unions than those who lower their expectations....Be patient." It might get worse before it gets better! Write about the issue from each of your positions and write the story behind it. Write about what plans you saw your life taking. Then each get to talk 15 min while the other simply listens. And do not try to solve anything. Take a relaxing break. With each other or alone. Don't think about the issue. Then come back and make your lists again, things you can't compromise on in this issue (only one or two if possible!) and things you can (as many as you can think of). Temporary compromise that honors and respects both sides. Try it for two months and come back. Principle 7- "...a spiritual dimension that has to do with creating an inner life together- a culture rich with symbols and rituals, and an appreciation for your roles and goals that link you, that lead you to understand what it means to be a part of the family you have become." Not always agreeing completely about your views, but always talking about them so that there s a deeper blending of your sense of meaning. Having and atmosphere in the home where each are comfortable to talk about views. 5 hrs a week: parting time, phone time, end of work-day conversation, admiration/appreciation, affection, weekly date. Some experts claim if we lower our overly-high expectation of each other in marriage, things will smooth out better...this author found..."that people with the highest expectations for their marriage usually wind up with the highest-quality marriages. This suggests that by holding your relationship to high standards, you are far more likely to achieve the kind of marriage you want than you are by looking the other way and letting things slide."

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alex Memus

    Let’s contextualize this book a little bit. There are two opposite popular approaches to marriage: * Esther Perel’s one. In her book Mating in Captivity she argues that “our cultural penchant for equality, togetherness, and absolute candor is antithetical to erotic desire for both men and women.” * John Gottman’s one. He argues that the closer and more open you are with your partner, the better you attune to them, the better is you marriage and sex. Today we’re going to talk about Gottman’s approac Let’s contextualize this book a little bit. There are two opposite popular approaches to marriage: * Esther Perel’s one. In her book Mating in Captivity she argues that “our cultural penchant for equality, togetherness, and absolute candor is antithetical to erotic desire for both men and women.” * John Gottman’s one. He argues that the closer and more open you are with your partner, the better you attune to them, the better is you marriage and sex. Today we’re going to talk about Gottman’s approach. And I must admit it has its advantages. The book is highly practical (and maybe even a little bit overloaded with practical exercises). Principles 1, 2, 3, 5 & 7 are common sense, and with kind presentation by Gottman are easy to approach. I’m more on the fence about Principles 4 & 6, especially in how Gottman proposes to implement them which seems unrealistic. In general, that’s my two main criticisms with the book: * It confuses correlation and causation a lot. There is a lot of symptom fixing in this book. Will it help to cure the marriage, though? * Gottman tends to land on the conservative & monogamic side of the argument. Which is not bad per se (I’m monogamic myself), but leads to arguments like this (a quote): “Without explicit agreement, the use of porn is really a form of relationship betrayal.” The Principles themselves are: 1: Enhance Your Love Maps -> know your partner 2: Nurture Your Fondness and Admiration -> maximize thoughts of your partner’s positive qualities and minimize thoughts of negative ones 3: Turn Toward Each Other Instead of Away -> react to “bids” for each other’s attention 4: Let Your Partner Influence You -> become agreeable (which I disagree with :) 5: Solve Your Solvable Problems -> avoid high heart rate and flooding, use repairs a lot, ask what you want 6: Overcome Gridlock -> learn to discuss your philosophy 7: Create Shared Meaning -> create family culture Gottman recommends to check your marriage for four signals that something is wrong: Horseman 1: Criticism. A complaint focuses on a specific behavior or event. Horseman 2: Contempt. The second horseman arises from a sense of superiority over one’s partner. It is a form of disrespect. Horseman 3: Defensiveness. Horseman 4: Stonewalling. In marriages where discussions begin with a harsh start-up, where criticism and contempt lead to defensiveness and vice versa, eventually one partner tunes out. A good complaint has three parts: (1) Here’s how I feel (“I’m really angry”); (2) About a very specific situation (“you didn’t sweep last night”); (3) And here’s what I need/want/prefer (“Could you do it now?”). You can see the seeds of trouble in (1) what partners actually say to each other (the prevalence of harsh start-up, the four horsemen, and the unwillingness to accept influence), (3) physiological reactions (flooding), or (4) pervasive negative thoughts about their marriage. Gottman emphasizes importance of daily partings and reunions for a couple. Here is the script for reunion: 1. Take turns. Each partner gets to be the complainer for fifteen minutes. 2. Show genuine interest. 3. Don’t give unsolicited advice. 4. Communicate your understanding. Let your spouse know that you empathize. 5. Take your partner’s side. This means expressing support even if you think his or her perspective is unreasonable. 6. Express a “we against others” attitude. If your mate is feeling all alone in facing some difficulty, express solidarity. Let him or her know that the two of you are in this together. 7. Show affection. Hold your mate, put an arm on his or her shoulder, say, “I love you.” 8. Validate emotions. Let your partner know that his or her feelings make sense to you. The 5th principle entails the following steps: 1. Soften your start-up. 2. Learn to make and receive repair attempts. 3. Soothe yourself and each other. 4. Compromise. 5. Process any grievances so that they don’t linger. The best soft start-up has four parts: (1) “I share some responsibility for this …” (2) Here’s how I feel …  (3) about a specific situation and …  (4) here’s what I need … (positive need, not what you don’t need).

  30. 4 out of 5

    Murtaza Hasan

    I would like to begin this review with a personal rant of mine. Often times when I see people referring to their relationships, their life, their circumstances they tend to have this view that it's a special snowflake, unique, unusual, uncommon, singular, something which has never happened before. I am sorry to break the bubble it's not. Most of us lie smack in the middle of the bell curve. It does not mean we cannot enjoy our experiences uniquely but it just means that there are patterns to eve I would like to begin this review with a personal rant of mine. Often times when I see people referring to their relationships, their life, their circumstances they tend to have this view that it's a special snowflake, unique, unusual, uncommon, singular, something which has never happened before. I am sorry to break the bubble it's not. Most of us lie smack in the middle of the bell curve. It does not mean we cannot enjoy our experiences uniquely but it just means that there are patterns to everything. A man who tries to learn to recognize patterns of life will always have an edge. Anything that you want to know there is a 100% chance that a human before you has already delved deep into it. Rant over. John Gottman has spent his whole life trying to decipher marriage and what makes or breaks them so it is an excellent exercise to think about what he says if you wish to improve your marriage. I will list down all the 7 principles and after that write 2 of the most interesting ideas I took. 1. Enhance your love maps. 2. Nurture fondness and admiration. 3. Turn toward each other (rather than against or away). 4. Let your partner influence you. 5. Solve your solvable problems. 6. Overcome gridlock. 7. Create shared meaning. The 2 most interesting ideas I took were: 1. The Four Horsemen: Anytime a conflict happens there are four signs that it is not going to go down well: Criticism: Verbally attacking personality or character. Defensiveness: Victimizing yourself to ward off a perceived attack and reverse the blame. Contempt: Attacking sense of self with an intent to insult. Stonewalling: Withdrawing to avoid conflict and convey disapproval, distance and separation. Knowing when they creep up and how to deal with them is essential knowledge if you wish to keep your marriage alive. To prevent the horsemen from appearing among the best techniques I learned was of a gentle start-up, talk about your feelings using "I" statements instead of "You", build a culture of appreciation, take responsibility, physiological self-soothing. Each marriage is a microculture in itself which needs a careful balance and approach. 2. Perpetual and Solvable problems: In all marriages, there are problems that can be solved and then there are problems that cannot be solved. It took me a lot of effort to digest the later part. Perpetual problems are the ones that will always remain, the only thing both partners can do is empathize with each other and just prevent those from turning into a gridlock. That's all that can be done. When Gottman caught with couples years down the line on those issues even with happy couples, they were still there. These problems are connected with the identity of the partner which does not change. In close marriages, people learn to compromise with each other. The problem is both people believe in their views as the unchanging real truth. However, what both partners need to realize is that there is no objective reality and only subjective reality. It's an overall great book to read and it can truly help anyone's marriage.

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