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The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work Paperback – November 1, 2004

813 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

According to most relationship books, the key to a solid marriage is communication, communication, communication. Phooey, says John Gottman, Ph.D., author of the much-lauded Why Marriages Succeed or Fail. 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. "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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"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 --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (November 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752837265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752837260
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (813 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

787 of 815 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
After watching marriage-advice books catalyze the destruction of my first marriage, I did not think I would find myself reading any more of these books soon. But I heard an interview with Dr Gottman on National Public Radio and I was so impressed that I ran out, bought the book and read it. 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. Dr Gottman found that happy couples accept that these problems are unresolvable and can learn to live with them without damaging their relationship. As an analogy he points out that people with bad elbows can live very rich and rewarding lives as long as they don't make playing tennis a central part of their lives. In summary this is a great book that people who don't like marriage advice books can enjoy (as well as those who do).
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568 of 627 people found the following review helpful By J. Lund on June 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A very reasonable as well as scientific approach to marriage. Many marriage-oriented books offer logical short-term band-aids (e.g., focusing on perceived Mars/Venus gender differences, communicating better, smoothing over conflicts) that make for a provocative read and/or admirable goals, but by and large fail in the long-run to resuscitate shaky marriages. Gottman creates a path for marital success via theories and exercises with an established track record for success. Many people wouldn't think that a fit marriage has to be exercised regularly, no less than one's body through regular workouts. Gottman's book serves as the ultimate guide to marital fitness, yet is a valuable read even if you are unmarried or have already experienced a failed marriage.
Good marriages don't necessarily have less conflicts than bad ones. Gottman gets under the surface and digs into such deeper issues as the maintaining of HONOR and RESPECT for your partner in the heat of all-too-common battles. Along the way he punches holes in a lot of marriage-counseling paradigms. In short, this book can improve a good marriage (or any similiar commitment between two people), heal a salvagable one, or explain why a bad one got to or beyond the point of no return. Or even serve as a form of CRUCIAL pre-marital counseling.
My question, why isn't there a mandatory course in marriage at the high school level that incorporates Gottman's research? Wouldn't the knowledge gained be of as much or more importance than any other accumulated as teenagers head into adulthood? I consider topics such as those raised by Gottman to be of enormous value for my daughters to read (and discuss!) when they reach their mid-teens...better too early than too late!
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98 of 108 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
In my work as a psychologist for the last 14 years, marital problems are a most common presenting problem. They are usually most painful for clients, and most difficult for the mental health professional to treat. Yet, as one reviewer noted, most therapists really don't seem to know what to do! I agree, as I always ask my clients if they've previously seen a professional about marital problems, and whether it was helpful. Most give lukewarm responses at best. This is usually not because of the therapist's incompetence, but because of lack of proper training/continuing education. Unfortunately, many people then mistakenly assume that their relationship is doomed to fail. Not necessarily true! Any couple who has been dissatisfied with therapy might want to try either reading Dr. Gottman's book on their own, finding a psychologist or therapist who uses Dr. Gottman's work, or finding a therapist who is willing to learn it with them! In my experience, his work is simply the best, and it is based on a huge database of clinical experience with real people. Couples need an explanation of what is wrong, and specific, usable guidance about what to do. Dr. Gottman's work fits the bill perfectly. And, of course, even if you've never been in therapy or even considered it, the book is still quite useful. For those who are really into it, his students Dr.Howard Markman and Dr. Clifford Notarius have written some very useful books along the same lines. All three men have been on national television discussing these ideas. of course, their book are not aimed at people with such problems as continuing abuse or drug/alcohol problems. But for an ailing marriage or relationship, nothing beats his work or that of his students. I'm sure the books of Drs. Markman and Notarius available on Good luck!
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