Book Review: The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work

John Gottman, PhD, revolutionized the study of marriage with his Seattle “Love Lab,” an apartment designed with one-way mirrors, cameras, and sensors for heart rate, pulse, and other stress markers. Couples volunteered to spend time in the “Love Lab” to interact with one another, argue with one another, and even resolve arguments under the eyes of scientific observers. After years of research, Dr. Gottman was able to accurately predict the success or failure of a marriage observed in the “Love Lab” 91% of the time. Dr. Gottman found four key predictors of success or failure in marriage. One, how the couple initiates conversations, especially disagreements, predicts marital success or failure. If they begin with a harsh start up, it generally ends badly. Second, if a couple uses the “four horsemen” during their discussion, the interactions goes from bad to worse. The “four horsemen” include criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. When these “four horsemen” run wild during an interaction, the relationship will get trampled under a stampede. Third, if one partner consistently feels overwhelmed by the negativity of their spouse and emotionally disengages from the relationship to protect themselves, the relationship falters. Fourth, if the couple is unable to repair their emotional connection during and after a disagreement, they damage their relationship and create an unhappy future for themselves. If a couple experiences each of these difficulties on a consistent basis, they create bad memories, a negative history that distorts our perception of our partner. So, what is a couple to do? How can a couple prevent these factors from entering into and destroying their marriage? Read the rest of this book to find out! You will discover ways to develop, sustain, and revive the friendship inherent in a successful marriage. Chapters three through eleven reveal 7 principles that create marital success. Dr. Gottman discusses everything from “enhancing your love map” to “allowing your partner to influence you” to “solving problems.” Each chapter ends with several practical exercises to help couples master the skill of each principle and enhance their relationship. After all, marriages are not strengthened and saved by avoiding the markers of divorce, but by building a healthy friendship and connection between marital partners. This book will give every couple the tools necessary to build their friendship, enhance their intimacy, and enjoy a truly successful marriage.

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