The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

John Gottman, Nan Silver


According to most relationship books, the key to a solid marriage is communication, communication, communication. Phooey, says John Gottman, Ph.D... There's much more to a solid, "emotionally intelligent" marriage than sharing every feeling and thought, he points out--though most couples therapists ineffectively (and expensively) harp on these concepts.

Gottman, the director of the Gottman Institute, has found through studying hundreds of couples in his "love lab" that it only takes five minutes for him to predict--with 91 percent accuracy--which couples will eventually divorce. He shares the four not-so-obvious signs of a troubled relationship that he looks for, using sometimes amusing passages from his sessions with married couples. (One standout is Rory, the pediatrician who didn't know the name of the family dog because he spent so much time at work.)

Gottman debunks many myths about divorce (primary among them that affairs are at the root of most splits). He also reveals surprising facts about couples who stay together. They do engage in screaming matches. And they certainly don't resolve every problem.

Sample reviews

1) The thing that makes the book so good is that it is based on rigorous, scientific research (you know, set up an experiment, collect data, look for patterns in the data without inserting your own preconceptions and report it). Although I found that most of Dr. Gottman's findings were not particularly surprising, I still found the book to be extremely useful because out of the many possible things a person could do to improve their marriage, this book tells you which ones really matter.

The book also gave me a good sense of the problems that are encountered in happy marriages. For example, about 60% of the conflicts that happily married couples have are unresolvable (perpetual). This fact alone would have helped my first marriage a lot considering all the good will that we burned up trying to solve problems that were not solvable.