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Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last Kindle Edition
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I also liked that Mr. Gottman explains that its ok and even helpful to argue, as long as your doing it right. I very much enjoyed reading this book.
The "first" book alludes to the evidence of "hundreds" of couples. The "second" book presents not a scintilla of evidence to support any of its claims of effectiveness.
The research on couples is extremely valuable, mainly because it is descriptive of what actual married couples did in the lab. The approach is based on an ethological approach, sort of "Gorillas in the mist" for human beings. For a couple struggling to find their way among the thousands of self-help books on marital problems, this is an invaluable piece of work.
It describes in the first instance three types of stable marriage forms, including conflict avoidant pairs. It is also invaluable in demonstrating that couples can engage in conflict and "negativity" in stable and relationship-enforcing ways. It validates some of the "ventilationist" arguments in psychological counseling. It supports the idea that arguments per se are not the cause of marital dissolution, but rather the inability to understand and to cope with disagreements is the key to the problem. This should at least give some hope to those of us who prefer to attack and to solve problems head-on, while they are fresh and before they become big problems, in defense against much conventional wisdom to let things blow over.
The advice part is good too, but like well-intentioned advice is presented with no support whatsoever for any of its actual effectiveness. I found myself constantly scribbling in the margins, "Evidence?". In the end, it reminded me of the well-meaning advice for people who want to lose weight. The "solution" to being overweight is to eat less food. How to do that is the subject of tens of thousands of books and magazine articles. Structurally, this "second" book is no different.
This is no scholarly publication. Not only does it have no footnotes, references or bibliography, it even lacks an index. Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence) is cited in the acknowledgments at the back as one of the collaborators (shy of a full-credit co-author). Nan Silver is listed as a "with" writer inside the book. Some of the clichés, platitudes and awkward expressions are laughable. A fact checker for the 1995 paperback edition wasn't in the marketing budget, evidently. The cover on the paperback claims "breakthrough study of 2,000 married couples". If only.
I can imagine that in the course of Goleman's investigations he stumbled upon Gottman's research and implored him to write a book about it. This is the result. His actual research papers are better resources for the evidence supporting his findings.
These criticisms notwithstanding, I've ordered eight more of his books (in addition to three of his research publications so far). The research is too important to be ignored due to ineffective presentation.
-- Roy Zider
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