“Perhaps the biggest myth of all is that communication–and more specifically, learning to resolve your conflicts–is the royal road to romance and an enduring, happy marriage. Whatever a marriage therapist’s theoretical orientation, whether you opt for short-term therapy, long-term therapy, or a three-minute radio consultation with your local Frasier, the message you’ll get is pretty uniform: Learn to communicate better. The sweeping popularity of this approach is easy to understand. When most couples find themselves in a conflict (whether it gets played out as a short spat, an all-out screaming match, or stony silence), they each gird themselves to win the fight. They become so focused on how hurt they feel, on proving that they’re right and their spouse is wrong, or on keeping up a cold shoulder, that the lines of communication between the two may be overcome by static or shut down altogether. So it seems to make sense that calmly and lovely listening to each other’s perspective would lead couples to find compromise solutions and regain their marital composure….the problem is that it doesn’t work.” (pp. 8-10)
During this blogging series I want to continue to point out different books that could be helpful for you on the topic of marriage. One of the books that is quite popular and you see talked about a lot is The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman and Nan Silver. Gottman is probably most well known for ability to predict divorce with 91 percent accuracy by watching/listening to couples interact for less than five minutes. He is also quite well known for his Four Horsemen that he points to as warning signs when they work their way into a marriage (Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, Stonewalling).
In the book Gottman talks about the principles that do make marriage work, and the warning signs that couples must watch out for. His seven principles are:
- Enhance Your Love Maps
- Nurture Your Fondness and Admiration
- Turn Toward Each Other Instead of Away
- Let Your Partner Influence You
- The Two Kinds of Marital Conflict
- Solve Your Solvable Problems
- Overcome Gridlock
- Create Shared Meaning
I like Gottman’s book, and he has some great, tangible exercises (lots and lots of them) for couples to use to help them work through the seven principles. When it comes to books on marriage, this is one of the more easily read and accessible books for those who haven’t done too much study on the topic. There are lots of other books I like on marriage (which I will also recommend later), but this is just one of them that I have found to be helpful for many couples.
Have you read this book before? Was it helpful? Why or why not?