The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780609805794
Publisher: Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony
Publication date: 05/16/2000
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 2.40(d)

About the Author

John M. Gottman, PhD, is a New York Times bestselling author and a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle. His many books include The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work and The Relationship Cure.

Nan Silver is the former editor-in-chief of Health magazine and coauthor, with John Gottman, of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work and Why Marriages Succeed or Fail.

John Allen Nelson's critically acclaimed roles on television's 24 and Vanished are among the highlights of his twenty-five-plus years as an actor, screenwriter, and film producer. As a narrator, he won an AudioFile Earphones Award for his reading of Zoo Story by Thomas French.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

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.

Table of Contents

1.Inside the Seattle Love Lab: The Truth about Happy Marriages1
2.How I Predict Divorce25
3.Principle 1: Enhance Your Love Maps47
4.Principle 2: Nurture Your Fondness and Admiration61
5.Principle 3: Turn toward Each Other Instead of Away79
6.Principle 4: Let Your Partner Influence You99
7.The Two Kinds of Marital Conflict129
8.Principle 5: Solve Your Solvable Problems157
9.Coping with Typical Solvable Problems187
10.Principle 6: Overcome Gridlock217
11.Principle 7: Create Shared Meaning243
Afterword: What Now?259

What People are Saying About This

Neil Jacobson

What a breath of fresh air! This is one of a unique breed: where the scientist is also the wise clinician—an irresistible combination that not only reads well but contains profound wisdom that will solve the deep, dark mysteries of marriage.

Pepper Schwartz

An excellent and practical book... If you are contemplating marriage: read this book—it will save you a lot of mistakes and heartache. If your marriage feels stale: read this book—it will create new emotional depth and pleasure in your daily life together. And if your marriage is in trouble: read this book and gain new hope in the resilience of your relationship and the possibilities for not just saving your marriage but turning it into something wonderful.

From the Publisher

"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

Gary T. Smalley

I guarantee this book is ground-breaking, and it will produce a huge harvest of satisfied couples who not only stay together but enjoy a truly satisfying marriage.

Customer Reviews

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The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 139 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A few years ago, my marriage was going down the drain. I had no idea what was going on or what I could do about it. I felt helpless, hopeless and unhappy. Until then, I was very skeptical about these types of books so I never read them. But became so desperate that I opened this book in a store like a drowning person reaching for a straw. That was the beginning of the end. This book forced me to see my marriage from a completely objective point of view and helped me realize how I was part of the problem. Bad habits die hard but I kept making an effort to change. After a month or two, my spouse noticed this change and became curious about the book as well. We became even more interested in these things and read another book called 'The Ever-Transcending Spirit' by Toru Sato (I'd highly recommend this fabulous book too if you are ready to take one more positive step in your relationships). Now we appreciate each other. Now we talk about meaningful and interesting things in life. Even though this may sound very cheesy, in many ways we could say that our marriage is in a renaissance period. We still have a long way to go but there already is a newfound calmness in our lives that was never there before.
Colleen33 More than 1 year ago
Harmonious Relationships John M. Gottman has great suggestions that have supported my relationship with my husband. Of the “seven principles”, my favorite is “Turn toward Each Other Instead of Away”. I found the questionnaires inspiring and with Gottman’s discoveries, I can see that my husband and I have strength in our marriage and our “emotional bank account” is full. I enjoyed Gottman’s observations on couples he worked with and his tenacity to discover principles that can help couples experience harmonious relationships. Another relationship book that I highly recommend is Ariel & Shya Kane’s “How to Have A Match Made in Heaven”. Like Gottman, the Kanes write about sessions they have with their clients – with a BONUS – links to companion videos & audios of the Kanes working with their clients. So you get to “see” what you just “read”! I have discovered a sense of ease with all my relating since reading this book. It’s an amazing book. I applaud both Gottman and the Kanes for writing successful books that support relationship.
LCilmi More than 1 year ago
I so enjoyed reading John Gottman's "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work".  I was half way through the book when I realized it's already working! I had been behaving in a more sweet and tender way with my husband since I'd started reading it.  We already have a lovely relationship but throughout "7 Principles" I noticed my thoughts and actions were even more gentle and held even greater fondness for my husband and for our relationship.  Gottman takes readers through the early moments in a marriage, reviving the feelings of falling in love and recharging the magic of wedding celebrations.  On this journey I got to recall the admiration, respect and fun of being partners in my marriage. I highly recommend this book to those in great relationships, less than great relationships and of course, troubled relationships.  "7 Principles" can give you great comfort and joy.  Gottman has created a simple roadmap that leads to a great marriage.  Well worth the trip. Those who enjoy this book will also enjoy Ariel and Shya Kane's latest book: How to Have A Match Made in Heaven.  It's terrific.  I know I'm interested in having the best possible marriage and the Kanes illustrate how easy it can be to have such a relationship.  In reading the touching true stories and accompanying videos, I got to see how potentially relationship injuring behaviors can dissolve just by observing them non-judgmentally.  Yep, I said it: issues just dissolve. Just by seeing it. I know.... that simple. These two books Gottman's The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work and the Kanes': How to Have a Match Made in Heaven can rock your world in a fantastic way!  Buy them, read them, have sweet relationships.
CCinME More than 1 year ago
This book should be standard reading for couples. It is clear, concise and makes total sense. This book is for anyone wishing to improve their relationship, get back on track or learn how to not make the same mistakes over and over. When reading this book, I had many moments of "I knew that!" but had somehow forgotten over the many years of being married.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I was first introduced to this book, I was a bit skeptical since I have heard different perspectives on marriage counseling. After I started reading this book, I found myself identifying with the information that Gottman was telling me. I believe that this book is more personal and gives a person a sense of taking control of his/her own relationship. There are practical strategies that take time to work through, but are definitely worth your time. One of the best aspects about this book is that it isn't preaching or using "Christian" based lessons. I am not saying that it isn't spiritual, I am saying that Gottman has a way of presenting the facts that he found without slighting your religious beliefs. I would recommend this book for any couple who is in a serious relationship because this book only for married couples.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is probably the best book on marriage on the market. Gottman thinks outside the box, making understanding how to have a good marriage both practical and possible. Men, especially, need to read this book. I also recommend "When God Stopped Keeping Score" for anyone who feels bound by their anger, guilt, hurt or pain. I thought that the book was just about forgiveness, I soon learned, it was about so much more than that. It was about how you should deal with friends, family and yourself and more importantly, how to keep these relationships strong when things go wrong. Having read it, I feel like a better person. Maybe because this book spoke to me and not down to me. I have read a lot of books that was written like I didn't know anything. What the author of "When God Stopped Keeping Score" does is talk to you like a friend. I needed that. You will understand why when you read it. It is on sale here on
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a soon-to-be-married and I really like it. It gave a lot of examples of happily married people and not so happy that gives you an idea of what to do or if your marriage is directing to divorce. A lot of exercises that you have to do with your spouse to improve your marriage. Excellent information and easy to read.
Jmatheny More than 1 year ago
Janelle Matheny The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work By John M. Gottman, Ph.D. and Nan Silver The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is one of the most insightful books I’ve read in a long time. Not only does John Gottman establish credibility in the first five pages, but he is full of valid information and leads you to believe that he really does know what he’s talking about. I’m sure you’re asking yourself right now, “What is the point of this book?” or, “what is the book even about?” To put it quite simply, this book is a very good guide to making your marriage work and how to have successful relationships in your intrapersonal life. In the first chapter of the book, Dr. Gottman explains how he can usually tell if a marriage will last in the first three minutes he meets with the couple. He reveals the truth behind all happy relationships and marriages and that is happiness. If a couple has had a good friendship and great mutual sense of respect for each other before they had romantic feelings for each other, according to Dr. Gottman, the relationship will last and it can be salvageable if at any time in the future it is suffering. It was very interesting to read this book because he had some very valid points that really made me stop and think about my relationships in my life currently. Not only does he explain in every chapter the tips and tricks to making relationships work, but he also has activities and short quizzes throughout the book to help you understand what happened in the previous chapter and to make sure you’re on the right path to a successful relationship.The 7 principles for making a marriage work was a book I could not put down. I found that in every chapter, while he was explaining each principle that he really understood and he’s an educated man that knows what he’s talking about. It was such an intriguing book and I highly suggest you read this with your loved one and help improve the way you communicate and love each other.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I finally admitted that we needed help in our relationship, I bought this book with a little reservation.... I'm sorry I waited so long. If you practice what's in this book, I'm sure that you can make it. Everything can be related to in an easy understandable manner. If your willing, this book will definately help!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has lots of excellent and interesting advice about how to keep a relationship together. It is written in a way that everyone can understand and is full of practical suggestions. If you are in a relationship and want to figure out some ways to keep two souls dancing together to the wide variety of tunes life throws at us, read this book. Chances are, you will learn numerous things that are very helpful. If you want to go one step further and develop a deeper understanding of your relationship and what it means, you should read, 'The Ever-Transcending Spirit' by Toru Sato. It is simply the best book I have ever read on this topic! Meanwhile, enjoy the dance.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was really amazing, and even though I am not in a relationship now, most of the principles apply to relationships in general, whether they be familial or otherwise. Gottman bases his advice on sound scientific evidence and removes personal, religious, and social biases. I highly reccomend this book to anyone who is looking to improve relationships in their lives.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thank you 'Seven Principles' for starting to put my marriage back on solid ground. The book that completed the difficult task and ensures our longivity for now on is 'Loving Vows: Inspiring Promises For Building and Renewing Your Marriage' by Barbara Eklof. It took our wedding vows to a higher level by showing us how to KEEP each one during the day-to-day reality of marriage. Now, thanks to these two great books, we're discussing a second honeymoon instead of a divorce.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dr Gottman does a great job of outlining some of the common problems that plague relationships. I have started using this book as a tool in helping couples get stated on the path of healing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dr. Gottman is THE most prolific and authoritative researcher on marriage in the field. He doesn't write about his personal ideas but bases his writings on sound, exceptionally-crafted research. What he says is vital to your relationship. Paul Coleman, author of 'The Complete Idiot's Guide to Intimacy'
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was a bit skeptical that this book would help me out in any way. What I found was that this was an amazing book that gave me a lot of insight on marriage that your friends and family don't tell you because they don't want to 'air their dirty laundry'. This book keeps it real based on extensive research of real-life couples who experience the same problems that almost all married couples do.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this book can help strenghten the friendship of a married couple.It mainly concentrates on communication between man and woman and provides guidelines for working with the partner from an optimistic point of view. I strongly recommend it!!
travel-her More than 1 year ago
This book is a "must read" for anyone in a committed relationship. Helpful, informative, and if so motivated, effective!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is really a treasure trove of all the important data on marriage, and spells out what to do,and why, to make marriage great. I recommend it highly, and have used some of the data in it for my own book.
colehoo on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Straight talk from the greatest American researcher on marriage. Dr. Gottman brings both experience and science to bear on what separates great relationships from poor ones. It also includes a number of great exercises for you and your partner.
erikssonfamily on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Gottman's seven principles are common sense; however, he shows why so many couples fail to implement these very basic principles. I found the many exercises to be helpful. The book doesn't give all the answers, but it can be a starting block to successful marriages for many couples who are worried about their relationship. But you have to do the exercises and you have to allow time to work with your relationship. The principles are not quick fixes.
GShuk on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Lots of great advice, however I would not recommend the audio. There are many lists and they read through all of them.
LTW on LibraryThing 11 months ago
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. "Take Allan and Betty," he writes. "When Allan gets annoyed at Betty, he turns on ESPN. When Betty is upset with him, she heads for the mall. Then they regroup and go on as if nothing's happened. Never in forty-five years of marriage have they sat down to have a 'dialogue' about their relationship." While this may sound like a couple in trouble, Gottman found that they pass the love-lab tests and say honestly that "they are both very satisfied with their relationship and they love each other deeply."Through a series of in-depth quizzes, checklists, and exercises, similar to the ones he uses in his workshops, Gottman provides the framework for coping with differences and strengthening your marriage. His profiles of troubled couples rescued from the brink of divorce (including that of Rory, the out-of-touch doctor) and those of still-happy couples who reinvigorate their relationships are equally enlightening. --Erica Jorgensen
missjoni on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Everyone who is married or even thinking about being married should have this book.
MarkBaumann on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Although I am a divorce lawyer, I consider myself more successful if my client gets back together and fires me. For any client interested in giving it another try, I always recommend this book first. It¿s simple, research based, and there are work books and videos to help.If you are considering a marriage counselor, they better know Gottman¿s extensive works well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago