The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work | John M. Gottman

Summary of: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert
By: John M. Gottman


Embark on a journey towards a stronger, more fulfilling marriage with this summary of ‘The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert’ by John M. Gottman. Through his expertise, we will explore the concept of love maps, the fundamental importance of a fondness and admiration system, and the role of everyday conversations in nurturing romance. Learn to navigate gender-related conflicts by demonstrating respect, tackle solvable and perpetual problems, break free from gridlock, and develop a deep sense of shared meaning. By understanding these insights, you will equip yourself with the necessary tools to nourish and strengthen your marital bond.

Your Love Map Matters

Your emotional connection with your partner relies on the development of your love map – a collection of private, sensitive, and crucial information located in your mind. This map encompasses yours and your partner’s aspirations, values, fears, and life philosophies. A neglected love map stifles emotional intimacy and deteriorates the relationship. In several divorce cases, couples were not familiar with each other due to underdeveloped love maps. For instance, Rory, a workaholic pediatrician, had lost emotional affinity with his family. He had no idea about simple details like the family dog’s name or the house’s back door location. Having a baby or any significant life change can reshape your love map and that of your partner. Thus, it is essential to keep nurturing your love map to maintain a strong and intimate relationship with your partner.

Assessing Your Marriage’s Fondness and Admiration System

To determine if a marriage is salvageable, couples should assess their fondness and admiration system. This involves asking partners to recall positive moments from their shared past. If they can do so emphatically, there is a good chance for a happy future. Rory, a pediatrician, was able to fix his struggling marriage by recalling early days with love, admiration, and respect for his wife. A solid fondness and admiration system is crucial in having a successful marriage. Couples can assess this by answering true or false to statements like “I can easily list three things I admire in my partner.”

The Art of Turning Towards Your Partner

The key to maintaining a joyful marriage is not found in grand gestures, but in the significance of everyday conversations. This book emphasizes that daily interactions, or “bids” for attention, can enhance a relationship. By paying attention and tuning into your partner’s needs, you reinforce the romance and affection in your marriage. The author stresses that it’s the small moments in life, such as asking about each other’s day or discussing a nightmare, that can lead to a long-lasting and fulfilling marriage. The author also acknowledges that being mindful of important everyday conversations can improve the stability and romance in any relationship. Rather than taking their interactions for granted, couples should realize the value of these moments and show gratitude for their partner’s attention. By turning towards your partner, you can enjoy this connection with them at any time, whether a conversation seems small or significant.

The Power of Equality in Marriage

Fairness and equality play a significant role in maintaining a happy and lasting marriage. Husbands who treat their wives with respect and allow them to influence their decisions are more likely to have successful marriages and avoid divorce.

Marriage is a partnership that should be built on fairness and equality. The way husbands treat their wives greatly impacts their relationship, and conflict can arise if respect and honor are not present. A husband’s negative reactions tend to escalate a minor dispute, whereas wives often try to defuse the situation and prevent arguments.

The importance of treating wives with respect is backed by a 130-couple study that reveals happy and lasting marriages are those in which husbands allow their wives to influence them. On the contrary, marriages in which husbands refuse to share power with their partners have an 81% chance of falling apart.

This study is illustrated through the example of Jack, who kept his promise to his wife and sought the opinion of a mechanic before buying a used Honda from Phil. Phil ridiculed Jack for letting his wife advise him, but it turned out that the car had a transmission fault. Thanks to his wife’s influence, Jack avoided making a terrible mistake, and his marriage remained strong.

In summary, husbands who respect their wives and allow them to influence their decisions are more likely to have successful marriages. On the other hand, husbands who refuse to share power with their partners risk their marriages falling apart. Fairness and equality are the key ingredients to a happy and lasting marriage.

Solvable and Perpetual Marital Problems

Conflict arises in every marriage and while solvable problems can be easily resolved, perpetual problems tend to linger. It is common for most couples to have perpetual conflicts that may not have a concrete solution. However, the key is to recognize and manage these issues rather than avoiding them.

Any married couple can attest to the fact that conflicts are inevitable. It is not unusual for partners to experience solvable problems that when approached with mutual understanding and compromise can be resolved easily, but, they can linger and fester if not addressed properly. Solvable problems are minor disagreements such as household chores, parenting styles, or financial decisions. It can be managed if couples learn how to deal with them. The first step is to take control of the situation by starting a conversation with a calm and objective mind and monitoring the tone of the conversation for emotional flooding.

Perpetual problems, on the other hand, are continuous disagreements that may not have a concrete solution. Research shows that 69% of couples have a perpetual problem that could put a strain on the marriage if not confronted. However, this does not necessarily mean that perpetual conflicts will lead to a failed marriage. Rather, recognizing the issues and managing them head-on is a useful step towards a stronger relationship. Although issues like religious beliefs or cultural differences can be serious, couples can overcome them by finding ways to manage their differences or by approaching them with humor, mutual respect, and understanding.

In conclusion, marital conflicts, whether solvable or perpetual, are a natural part of marriage. This means that couples should develop the necessary skills to manage and resolve conflicts even in challenging situations. The key is to approach conflicts with empathy, active listening, and mutual respect, which will lead to a stronger union.

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