The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert [Secure eReader (recommended)/Microsoft Reader/Adobe PDF]
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by John M. Gottman, Ph.D.
Category: Family/Relationships/Self Improvement
Description: Just as Masters and Johnson were pioneers in the study of human sexuality, so Dr. John Gottman has revolutionized the study of marriage. As a professor of psychology at the University of Washington and the founder and director of the Seattle Marital and Family Institute, he has studied the habits of married couples in unprecedented detail over the course of many years. His findings, and his heavily attended workshops, have already turned around thousands of faltering marriages. This book is the culmination of his life's work: the seven principles that guide couples on the path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship. Straightforward in their approach, yet profound in their effect, these principles teach partners new and startling strategies for making their marriage work. Gottman helps couples focus on each other, on paying attention to the small day-to-day moments that, strung together, make up the heart and soul of any relationship. Being thoughtful about ordinary matters provides spouses with a solid foundation for resolving conflict when it does occur and finding strategies for living with those issues that cannot be resolved. Packed with questionnaires and exercises whose effectiveness has been proven in Dr. Gottman's workshops, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is the definitive guide for anyone who wants their relationship to attain its highest potential. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is the result of Dr. John Gottman's many years of closely observing thousands of marriages. This kind of longitudinal research has never been done before. Based on his findings, he has culled seven principles essential to the success of any marriage.; Maintain a love map. ; Foster fondness and admiration. ; Turn toward instead of away. ; Accept influence. ; Solve solvable conflicts. ; Cope with conflicts you can't resolve. ; Create shared meaning. Dr. Gottman's unique questionnaires and exercises will guide couples on the road to revitalizing their marriage, or making a strong one even better.
eBook Publisher: Random House, Inc., 2002
EPIC eBookstore Release Date: June 2002
6 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure eReader (recommended)/Microsoft Reader/Adobe PDF - What's this?]: SECURE MICROSOFT READER FORMAT [292 KB] - Requires Microsoft Reader 2.1.1 for PCs, SECURE EREADER (RECOMMENDED) FORMAT [507 KB], SECURE ADOBE PDF FORMAT [1.2 MB]
Reading time: 257-360 min.
All formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
GEOGRAPHIC RESTRICTIONS: Available to customers in: US, PR, VI, UM What's this
"An eminently practical guide to an emotionally intelligent -- and long-lasting -- marriage." -- Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
"Gottman stays refreshingly down to earth, rather than on Mars and Venus." -- Bill Marvel and Geoffrey Norman, American Way
"Gottman comes to this endeavor with the best of qualifications: he's got the spirit of a scientist and the soul of a romantic." -- Newsweek
"Twenty-five years of landmark marital research." -- USA Today
"Offers something every relationship can benefit from." -- Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"Astonishing new research!" -- Woman's World
"Debunks many myths about divorce . . . reveals surprising facts . . . enlightening!" -- Amazon.com
Inside the Seattle Love Lab:
The Truth about Happy Marriages
It's a surprisingly cloudless Seattle morning as newlyweds Mark and Janice Gordon sit down to breakfast. Outside the apartment's picture window, the waters of Montlake cut a deep-blue swath, while runners jog and geese waddle along the lakeside park. Mark and Janice are enjoying the view as they munch on their French toast and share the Sunday paper. Later Mark will probably switch on the football game while Janice chats over the phone with her mom in St. Louis.
All seems ordinary enough inside this studio apartment -- until you notice the three video cameras bolted to the wall, the microphones clipped talk-show style to Mark's and Janice's collars, and the Holter monitors strapped around their chests. Mark and Janice's lovely studio with a view is really not their apartment at all. It's a laboratory at the University of Washington in Seattle, where for sixteen years I have spearheaded the most extensive and innovative research ever into marriage and divorce.
As part of one of these studies, Mark and Janice (as well as forty-nine other randomly selected couples) volunteered to stay overnight in our fabricated apartment, affectionately known as the Love Lab. Their instructions were to act as naturally as possible, despite my team of scientists observing them from behind the one-way kitchen mirror, the cameras recording their every word and facial expression, and the sensors tracking bodily signs of stress or relaxation, such as how quickly their hearts pound. (To preserve basic privacy, the couples were monitored only from nine A.M. to nine P.M. and never while in the bathroom.) The apartment comes equipped with a fold-out sofa, a working kitchen, a phone, TV, VCR, and CD player. Couples were told to bring their groceries, their newspapers, their laptops, needlepoint, hand weights, even their pets -- whatever they would need to experience a typical weekend.
My goal has been nothing more ambitious than to uncover the truth about marriage -- to finally answer the questions that have puzzled people for so long: 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?
PREDICTING DIVORCE WITH 91 PERCENT ACCURACY
After years of research I can finally answer these questions. In fact, I am now able to predict whether a couple will stay happily together or lose their way. I can make this prediction after listening to the couple interact in our Love Lab for as little as five minutes! My accuracy rate in these predictions averages 91 percent over three separate studies. In other words, in 91 percent of the cases where I have predicted that a couple's marriage would eventually fail or succeed, time has proven me right. These predictions are not based on my intuition or preconceived notions of what marriage "should" be, but on the data I've accumulated over years of study.
At first you might be tempted to shrug off my research results as just another in a long line of newfangled theories. It's certainly easy to be cynical when someone tells you they've figured out what really makes marriages last and can show you how to rescue or divorce-proof your own. Plenty of people consider themselves to be experts on marriage -- and are more than happy to give you their opinion of how to form a more perfect union.
But that's the key word -- opinion. Before the breakthroughs my research provided, point of view was pretty much all that anyone trying to help couples had to go on. And that includes just about every qualified, talented, and well-trained marriage counselor out there. Usually a responsible therapist's approach to helping couples is based on his or her professional training and experience, intuition, family history, perhaps even religious conviction. But the one thing it's not based on is hard scientific evidence. Because until now there really hasn't been any rigorous scientific data about why some marriages succeed and others flop.
For all of the attention my ability to predict divorce has earned me, the most rewarding findings to come out of my studies are the Seven Principles that will prevent a marriage from breaking up.
EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT MARRIAGES
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.
I can predict whether a couple will divorce after watching and listening to them for just five minutes.
Recently, emotional intelligence has become widely recognized as an important predictor of a child's success later in life. The more in touch with emotions and the better able a child is to understand and get along with others, the sunnier that child's future, whatever his or her academic IQ. The same is true for relationships between spouses. The more emotionally intelligent a couple -- the better able they are to understand, honor, and respect each other and their marriage -- the more likely that they will indeed live happily ever after. Just as parents can teach their children emotional intelligence, this is also a skill that a couple can be taught. As simple as it sounds, it can keep husband and wife on the positive side of the divorce odds.
WHY SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE?
Speaking of those odds, the divorce statistics remain dire. The chance of a first marriage ending in divorce over a forty-year period is 67 percent. Half of all divorces will occur in the first seven years. Some studies find the divorce rate for second marriages is as much as 10 percent higher than for first-timers. The chance of getting divorced remains so high that it makes sense for all married couples -- including those who are currently satisfied with their relationship -- to put extra effort into their marriages to keep them strong.
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. Some people may think that getting divorced or languishing in an unhappy marriage is no big deal -- they may even consider it trendy. But there's now plenty of evidence documenting just how harmful this can be for all involved.
Thanks to the work of researchers like Lois Verbrugge and James House, both of the University of Michigan, we now know that an unhappy marriage can increase your chances of getting sick by roughly 35 percent and even shorten your life by an average of four years. The flip side: People who are happily married live longer, healthier lives than either divorced people or those who are unhappily married. Scientists know for certain that these differences exist, but we are not yet sure why.
Part of the answer may simply be that in an unhappy marriage people experience chronic, diffuse physiological arousal -- in other words, they feel physically stressed and usually emotionally stressed as well. This puts added wear and tear on the body and mind, which can present itself in any number of physical ailments, including high blood pressure and heart disease, and in a host of psychological ones, including anxiety, depression, suicide, violence, psychosis, homicide, and substance abuse.
Not surprisingly, happily married couples have a far lower rate of such maladies. They also tend to be more health-conscious than others. Researchers theorize that this is because spouses keep after each other to have regular checkups, take medicine, eat nutritiously, and so on.
People who stay married live four years longer than people who don't.
Recently my laboratory uncovered some exciting, preliminary evidence that a good marriage may also keep you healthier by directly benefiting your immune system, which spearheads the body's defenses against illness. Researchers have known for about a decade that divorce can depress the immune system's function. Theoretically this lowering in the system's ability to fight foreign invaders could leave you open to more infectious diseases and cancers. Now we have found that the opposite may also be true. Not only do happily married people avoid this drop in immune function, but their immune systems may even be getting an extra boost.
When we tested the immune system responses of the fifty couples who stayed overnight in the Love Lab, we found a striking difference between those who were very satisfied with their marriages and those whose emotional response to each other was neutral or who were unhappy. Specifically, we used blood samples from each subject to test the response of certain of their white blood cells -- the immune system's major defense weapons. In general, happily married men and women showed a greater proliferation of these white blood cells when exposed to foreign invaders than did the other subjects.
We also tested the effectiveness of other immune system warriors -- the natural killer cells, which, true to their name, destroy body cells that have been damaged or altered (such as infected or cancerous ones) and are known to limit the growth of tumor cells. Again, subjects who were satisfied with their marriage had more effective natural killer cells than did the others.
It will take more study before scientists can confirm that this boost in the immune system is one of the mechanisms by which a good marriage benefits your health and longevity. But what's most important is that we know for certain that a good marriage does. In fact, I often think that if fitness buffs spent just 10 percent of their weekly workout time -- say, twenty minutes a day -- working on their marriage instead of their bodies, they would get three times the health benefits they derive from climbing the StairMaster!
When a marriage goes sour, husband and wife are not the only ones to suffer -- the children do, too. In a study I conducted of sixty-three preschoolers, those being raised in homes where there was great marital hostility had chronically elevated levels of stress hormones compared with the other children studied. We don't know what the long-term repercussions of this stress will be for their health. But we do know that this biological indication of extreme stress was echoed in their behavior. We followed them through age fifteen and found that, compared with other children their age, these kids suffered far more from truancy, depression, peer rejection, behavioral problems (especially aggression), low achievement at school, and even school failure.
One important message of these findings is that it is not wise to stay in a bad marriage for the sake of your children. It is clearly harmful to raise kids in a home that is subsumed by hostility between the parents. A peaceful divorce is better than a warlike marriage. Unfortunately, divorces are rarely peaceful. The mutual hostility between the parents usually continues after the breakup. For that reason, children of divorce often fare just as poorly as those caught in the crossfire of a miserable marriage.
INNOVATIVE RESEARCH , REVOLUTIONARY FINDINGS
When it comes to saving a marriage, the stakes are high for everybody in the family. And yet despite the documented importance of marital satisfaction, the amount of scientifically sound research into keeping marriages stable and happy is shockingly small. When I first began researching marriage in 1972, you could probably have held all of the "good" scientific data on marriage in one hand. By "good" I mean findings that were collected using scientific methods as rigorous as those used by medical science. For example, many studies of marital happiness were conducted solely by having husbands and wives fill out questionnaires. This approach is called the self-report method, and although it has its uses, it is also quite limited. How do you know a wife is happy just because she checks the "happy" box on some form? Women in physically abusive relationships, for example, score very high on questionnaires about marital satisfaction. Only if the woman feels safe and is interviewed one on one does she reveal her agony.
To address this paucity of good research, my colleagues and I have supplemented traditional approaches to studying marriage with many innovative, more extensive methods. We are now following seven hundred couples in seven different studies. We have not just studied newlyweds but long-term couples who were first assessed while in their forties or sixties. We have also studied couples just becoming parents and couples interacting with their babies, their preschoolers, and their teenagers.
As part of this research, I have interviewed couples about the history of their marriage, their philosophy about marriage, how they viewed their parents' marriages. I have videotaped them talking to each other about how their day went, discussing areas of continuing disagreement in their marriage, and also conversing about joyful topics. And to get a physiological read of how stressed or relaxed they were feeling, I measured their heart rate, blood flow, sweat output, blood pressure, and immune function moment by moment. In all of these studies, I'd play back the tapes to the couples and ask them for an insiders' perspective of what they were thinking and feeling when, say, their heart rate or blood pressure suddenly surged during a marital discussion. And I've kept track of the couples, checking in with them at least every year to see how their relationship is faring.
So far my colleagues and I are the only researchers to conduct such an exhaustive observation and analysis of married couples. Our data offer the first real glimpse of the inner workings -- the anatomy -- of marriage. The results of these studies, not my own opinions, form the basis of my Seven Principles for making marriage work. These principles, in turn, are the cornerstones of a remarkably effective short-term therapy for couples that I have developed along with my wife, clinical psychologist Julie Gottman, Ph.D. This therapy, and some briefer workshops that follow the same principles, are intended for couples who find that their marriage is in trouble or just want to ensure it stays strong.
Our approach contrasts dramatically with the standard one offered by most marriage therapists. This is because as my research began to uncover the true story of marriage, I had to throw out some long-hallowed beliefs about marriage and divorce.
Copyright © 1999 by John M. Gottman, Ph.D. & Nan Silver