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Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last Paperback – June 25, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (June 25, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747536031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747536031
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,427,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

From psychology professor (Univ. of Washington) and marriage researcher Gottman: an upbeat, easy-to-follow manual based on research into the dynamics of married couples. Gottman describes his studies as being akin to a CAT scan of a living relationship and asserts that he's been able to predict the future of marriages with an accuracy rate of over 90 percent. In 1983 and 1986, his research team monitored more than a hundred married couples in Indiana and Illinois with electrodes, video cameras, and microphones as they attempted to work out real conflicts. Using the information derived from these sessions, Gottman concludes here that a lasting relationship results from a couple's ability to resolve conflicts through any of the three styles of problem-solving that are found in healthy marriages- -validating, conflict-avoiding, and volatile. Numerous self-quizzes help couples determine the style that best suits them. Gottman points out, however, that couples whose interactions are marked by four characteristics--criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and withdrawal--are in trouble, and he includes self-tests for diagnosing these destructive tactics, as well as steps for countering them. Interestingly, Gottman asserts that the basis of a stable marriage can be expressed mathematically: the ratio of positive to negative moments must be at least 5:1--and he offers a four-step program for breaking through negativity and allowing one's natural communication and problem-solving abilities to flourish. Mathematics and science aside, there's plenty of old- fashioned, helpful, and worthwhile advice here about gender differences, realistic expectations, love, and respect--advice that may appeal especially to those who enjoy taking quizzes and analyzing relationships. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"There's plenty of old-fashioned, helpful, and worthwhile advice here about gender differences, realistic expectations, love, and respect." ---Kirkus --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

He has some very helpful ideas about how to improve my marriage.
C. Romero
This book is very similar to "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work : A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert".
JEM
My husband and I enjoyed reading this book together and I found it was very thought provoking.
Sara Kelly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

183 of 189 people found the following review helpful By JEM on January 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is very similar to "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work : A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert". It almost seems like a first draft of the other book. Not as well organized or clearly written. It is a very good book, but I would recommend "The Seven Principles" over this one.
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108 of 110 people found the following review helpful By merrie lee peterson on March 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
I read this book on the advice of my marriage therapist, right after my divorce was final. No advice has ever rung so true. It was a little too late to fix that one, but it's given me a lot to practice for the future. Of course, no book can answer all the questions, solve all your problems, but if you want to understand some of the more intricate patterns of communication that can subtly erode your marriage, I think this book is exceptional. I recently read it again with my partner, and it drew us together, helped us understand the goings on of our communication, where each of us has difficulty, and gave us sensible, reasonable solutions to mend our relationship and make it more positive. The best part of all: neither of us felt horrible for behaving like children; it just helped us understand what the consequences of our actions might be.
One little bit of data he uncovered, the impact of positive to negative interactions between couples, was reduced to a rather mathematical forumula: to practice a ratio of five positive to every one negative interaction. Sounds scientific enough, but in practice it's remarkable how much that little habit has done to improve all of my relationships. I think Gottman's work is a significant contribution to understanding how marriages do work, and what couples can do to avoid the pitfalls of harmful communication patterns. I have recommended it to everyone I know whose relationships are ailing and have gotten a lot of grateful thanks from them.
He's got a great writing style, humorous at times, and the book is fun to read with your significant other. I feel his information is practical, authentic, and gives the people like me, who don't quite understand all the ins and outs of communication, hope to have a better relationship.
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103 of 107 people found the following review helpful By "virgil85" on August 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book was required reading in my clinical psychology, masters level course. I was surprised to see a "popular psych" book in a graduate course but it turned out to be a great text. This book combines an academic and research perspective with accessible and easily generalized examples that can benefit anyone. Since reading it, I have significantly improved my relationship skills and use them frequently in my marriage. The self-tests, the simple practices, and the engaging writing style place this book at the top of the stack for relationship advice. This book is not just for couples in trouble--new couples or anyone looking to improve their relationship skills can benefit. I give it as a wedding gift all the time.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Adam Khan (adamkhan@juno.com) on March 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
About 25 years ago John Gottman, a researcher at the University of Washington, started interviewing newlyweds in his laboratory. He hooked them up to devices that measure physical responses (blood pressure, heart rate, sweat on the palms, etc.) and videotaped them while they discussed a subject that was volatile for them. What topic was sure to create a heated argument? That's the one he wanted them to talk about. He was then able to go back and study the videotapes and watch the records of blood pressure and heart rate and see how the person responded both outwardly and inwardly. And then he tracked these couples over the years. Some broke up. Some stayed together.

He found something very specific that enabled him to predict, with an astoundingly high degree of accuracy, who will break up and who will stay together: How do they fight? He found four things -- four kinds of communication -- that ruin a marriage. If those four are present during an argument, the marriage is headed for disaster.

His most important discovery, I think, is that it isn't the CONTENT of the fight that makes a difference, it's the PROCESS you use during an argument. If you use a lousy method of fighting, it doesn't matter if you're only arguing about a toothpaste tube, it can destroy your marriage. But with the right PROCESS -- one that avoids those four disaster-creating methods -- you can talk about a highly volatile issue like infidelity and still keep the marriage together and your love alive.

When you're in an argument with your spouse, it always SEEMS that the important thing is WHAT you're arguing about. But that's not what matters. The important thing is HOW you argue. And Gottman's book tells you exactly how to avoid what doesn't work.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By calmly on January 31, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So many self-tests but doing them seemed worthwhile. I felt a lot better about my marriage after reading this book and evaluating the tests, as it seems a lot of what I worried about doesn't spell trouble, according to Gottman, and we seemed to be on a right track together. In areas for which the tests indicated improvement would help, it seems that focusing on a few practices goes a long way. Still, learning not to be defensive doesn't come easy. Avoiding "flooding" by calming techniques (breathe, breathe) seems to pay off a lot.

My impression is that Gottman's advice is valuable given how hard marriage can be. I appreciate that he avoids stereotypes and any system of speculations. I expect to return to this book now and then to try to keep on track.
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