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The Seven Principles for Making Marriages Work

Making Marriages Work

Author: John Gottman and Nan Silver

Review by Mark Tyrrell

Making Marriages Work

This thought-provoking and myth-busting book makes compulsive reading for anybody who has ever wondered how some relationships work even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles while some perfect partnerships crumble.

John Gottman, director of the ‘Gottman Institute' in Seattle, has studied hundreds of couples in his ‘Love Lab'. He and his team of psychologists have reached the point where they can predict within 91% accuracy which couples will eventually divorce by observing just five initial minutes (the ‘start up phase' of a disagreement.

In the book, Gottman shares the four signs that flag a troubled relationship and teaches you how to become adept at spotting early danger signs, which are not always what you might expect. He uses many real life examples such as ‘Rory' the paediatrician who didn’t even know the name of the family dog because he spent so much time at work!

Gottman also debunks many ‘touch-feely' myths about relationships such as sharing feelings being the most important thing and the idea that affairs are the root of most splits. Couples that survive and report most relationship satisfaction are also able, it seems, to discount and ignore major and minor areas of disagreement. This is the polar opposite of so much relationship advice, which encourages exploration, and ‘openness' about all feelings and thoughts - it seems that many areas are better left unshared.

Many successful marriages survive regular disagreements and even ‘screaming matches'. It is not so much how much we argue but the way we argue that Gottman has found to be important. The book offers an array of in depth quizzes, checklists and exercises similar to the ones used in his relationship workshops. These provide a framework for coping with differences and strengthening relationships. The book illustrates many examples of couples saved from the brink of divorce and how that was achieved.

John Gottman has revolutionised thinking and practice around marriage by engaging in years of study and research. If you are at all interested in relationship health then read this book.

Making Marriages Work Chapter Headings

One:    What Makes Marriage Work
Two:    Marriage Styles: Good and Bad and the Volatile
Three:  The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Warning Signs
Four:    Your Private Thoughts Become Cast in Stone
Five:    The Two marriages: His and Hers
Six:      Your Marriage: The Diagnosis
Seven: The Four Keys to Improving Your Marriage
Eight:   Strengthening the Foundations

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Mark Tyrrell
Creative Director