John M. Gottman, Ph. D. is a well-respected relationship expert in our country. He has written many books and articles and done extensive research on how relationships work, or don’t work.
Gottman’s goal has been to uncover the truth about marriage and answer the many questions that have puzzled us for a long while: such as
Why is marriage so tough at times?
Why do some lifelong relationships click, while others just tick away like a time bomb?
And how can you prevent a marriage from going bad — or rescue one that already has?
Gottman’s book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (1999) is a culmination of much of his research, which he synthesized into Seven Principles, that he believes, will help prevent a marriage from dissolving. If we can work as individuals and couples in strengthening our skill and maturity in these area we have a better chance of improving our marriage, hopefully preventing breakdown, or at the very least learn important lessons so that we don’t make the same mistakes in future relationships.
Gottman believes that key to learning these skills and making them work requires emotional intelligence. “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.” This is what Gottman means when he uses the term — emotional intelligence.
Principle 1: Enhance your love maps (I defined “love maps” and how to construct one in an earlier post)
Principle 2: Nurture your fondness and admiration
Principle 3: Turn toward each other instead of away
Principle 4: Let your partner influence you
Principle 5: Solve your solvable problems
Principle 6: Overcome gridlock
Principle 7: Create shared meaning
Above all else, become and remain “best friends.” Work at it. Rediscovering and reinvigorating the friendship bond goes a long way toward sustaining a marriage for the long haul.
Gottman, John M. and Silver, Nan (1999). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. New York: Three Rivers Press.