John Gottman on Why Marriages Succeed or Fail


Okay, you might be asking yourself, who is John Gottman?

Good question and here’s a brief response: He and his colleagues have
conducted THE most exhaustive research, observation, and analysis of
married couples to date—studying happily married couples for as long
as sixteen years.

Not just pie-in-the-sky ideas or theories, but real life research based
on real live couples.

(Unfortunately, most “self-help” material written today – my own included-
has no hard data or research to back it up….Dr. Gottman does!)

Gottman and his team know what makes relationships work and what destroys them.

is not how you handle disagreements (negotiating differences & improving communication).

It is in how you are with each other when you’re not fighting.


The Foundation of Gottman’s Approach =
Strengthening the friendship also provides guidance in coping with conflict

“The results from the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work are the
cornerstones of his short-term therapy with couples.  The key is not how
conflict is resolved but how couples are with each other when not fighting.
The foundation is strengthening the friendship that is at the heart
of any marriage.”


  1. Enhance Your Love Maps

Emotionally intelligent couples are intimately familiar with the details of each
other’s lives. They have made plenty of cognitive room for their marriage. They
remember major events in each other’s history, & keep updating information as
the facts and feelings of their spouse’s world change.


  1. Nurture Your Fondness & Admiration

These are two of the most crucial elements in a rewarding and long lasting
romance. It is the ability to retain some fundamental sense that the other is
worthy of being respected and even liked…even in the midst of mutual


  1. Turn Toward Each Other Instead of Away

Small moments of connection, letting your spouse know they are valued during
the grind of everyday life. This is the basis of emotional connection, romance,
passion, and a good sex life. Characteristically turning toward each other are
building up their emotional bank account, and this savings can serve as a
cushion when times get rough, when faced with a major life stress or conflict.


  1. Let Your Partner Influence You

The happiest, most stable marriages are those where the husband treats his
wife with respect and does not resist power sharing and decision making with
her. When there are disagreements, he actively searches for common ground
rather than insisting on getting his own way.

  1. Solve Your Solvable Problems

People with enviable, loving relationships tend to resolve conflicts this way:

  • Soften your startup
  • Learn to make and receive repair attempts
  • Soothe yourself and each other
  • Compromise
  • Be tolerant of each other’s faults


  1. Overcome Gridlock

View your differences as a kind of psychological trick knee that you can learn to
cope with. Move from gridlock to dialogue, learning to talk about the problem
without hurting each other. First understand its cause. It is usually a sign that
there are dreams for your life that are not being addressed or respected.


  1. Create Shared Meaning

Marriage is about more than raising kids, splitting chores, & making love. It has
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.

Also recommended:  John Gottman’s Why Marriages Succeed or Fail

Read more from Ken Donaldson here



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