John Gottman, Ph. D. has a unique approach to helping married couples live happily ever after: he subjects them to scientific research! That’s right. Over the past few decades Gottman has invited couples to spend a weekend in a wired apartment (dubbed the ‘Love Lab’) where their conversations – even their heart rates – are monitored by a team of relational scientists. As a result Gottman says: “…I can predict a divorce by hearing only one discussion between a husband and wife.” (p. 40) Based on this research Gottman has developed seven principles (hence the name of his book) that when applied will help strengthen marriages. The seven principles are:
1. Enhance your love maps (know what makes each other tick).
2. Nurture fondness and admiration (appreciate each other)
3. Turn toward each other instead of away.
4. Let your partner influence you (especially for husbands).
5. Solve your solvable problems.
6. Overcome gridlock.
7. Create shared meaning.
Gottman includes his version of “The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse” that spell real trouble for any marriage: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Unfortunately, most couples will recognize one or more of these horsemen in their own marriages. The beauty of “Seven Principles” is that Gottman develops each principle and provides a series of exercises to help couples put them into practice. It is presented in a clear and direct way that makes it very accessible for couples to use on their own, with the help of a marriage mentor or therapist, or in a small group setting. If you’re looking for a book filled with biblical references you will need to look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a fresh approach to marital health that is consistent with biblical principles then Gottman’s “Seven Principles” should be part of your tool kit. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is available at Amazon.