Saturday, November 28, 2009

Book 20 – The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

By John M. Gottman, PhD, and Nan Silver

This was a birthday gift from my brother before my impending wedding in September and the first time I’ve ever started and finished a self-help book ever. It’s a quick practical-minded book, and it basically outlines the general principles that make a happy and satisfying marriage.

After studying several hundred couples and tracking their development for up to sixteen years, Dr. Gottman claims he can predict whether a couple will divorce after watching and listening to them for just 5 minutes.

But the key to his discoveries didn’t come from studying the negative aspects of bad marriages, but by actually analyzing what works for happy couples. The more he studied happy marriages the more it became clear that they were like in seven telltale ways.

According to Gottman: “What can make a marriage work is surprisingly simple. Happily married couples aren’t smarter, richer, or more psychologically astute than others. But in their day-to-day lives, they have hit upon a dynamic that keeps their negative thoughts and feelings about each other (which all couples have) from overwhelming their positive ones. They have what I call an emotionally intelligent marriage.”

He also debunks the biggest myths perpetuated by conventional marriage counseling - communication and conflict resolution isn’t what makes marriages work. The key to salvaging a damaged relationship is not in how a couple handles disagreements but in how they are with each other when they’re not fighting. So although Gottman’s Seven Principles provides a guide for coping with conflict, the core of his approach is to strengthen the friendship that is the foundation of any marriage. For this, I found this quite enlightening and helpful.

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