Gottman Marriage Tips 101
1973, Dr. John Gottman has studied what he calls the "masters
and disasters" of marriage. Ordinary people from the general
public took part in long-term studies, and Dr. Gottman learned
what makes marriages
fail, what makes them succeed, and what can make marriages a source
of great meaning. By examining partner’s heart rates, facial
expressions, and how they talk about their relationship to each
other and to other
people, Dr. Gottman is able to predict with more than 90% accuracy
which couples will make it, and which will not. What advice does
have to offer? Below are some of his top suggestions for how to
keep your marriage strong.
• Seek help early. The average couple waits six years before seeking help
for marital problems (and keep in mind, half of all marriages
that end do so in the first seven years). This means the average couple
with unhappiness for far too long.
• Edit yourself. Couples who avoid saying every angry thought when discussing
touchy topics are consistently the happiest.
• Soften your "start up." Arguments first "start
a spouse sometimes escalates the conflict from the get-go by
making a critical or contemptuous remark in a confrontational tone.
• Accept influence. A marriage succeeds to the extent that the husband
can accept influence from his wife. If a woman says, "Do
you have to work Thursday night? My mother is coming that weekend,
and I need
your help getting ready," and her husband replies, "My
plans are set, and I'm not changing them," this a guy is
in a shaky marriage. A husband's ability to be persuaded by his
wife (rather than vice-versa)
is so crucial because, research shows, women are already well
practiced at accepting influence from men, and a true partnership
only occurs when
a husband is able to do so as well.
• Have high standards. Happy couples have high standards for each other
even as newlyweds. The most successful couples are those who,
even as newlyweds, refused to accept hurtful behavior from one another. The lower
the level of tolerance for bad behavior in the beginning of a
the happier the couple is down the road.
• Learn to repair and exit the argument. Successful couples know
how to exit an argument. Happy couples know how to repair the situation
an argument gets completely out of control. Successful repair
attempts include: changing the topic to something completely unrelated;
humor; stroking your partner with a caring remark ("I understand
that this is hard for you"); making it clear you're on common
ground ("This is our problem"); backing down (in marriage,
as in the martial art Aikido, you have to yield to win; and,
in general, offering
signs of appreciation for your partner and his or her feelings
along the way ("I really appreciate and want to thank you
If an argument gets too heated, take a 20-minute break, and agree
to approach the topic again when you are both calm.
• Focus on the bright side. In a happy marriage, couples make
at least five times as many positive statements to and about each other
and their relationship ("We laugh a lot") as opposed negative
never have fun”). A good marriage must have a rich climate
of positivity. Make deposits to your emotional bank account.