John Gottman is a Ph.D. psychologist known for his work on marital stability and relationship analysis through scientific direct observations published in peer-reviewed literature. In a 1998 study, Gottman developed a model to predict which newlywed couples will remain married and which will divorce four to six years later. He claims that his model has 90% accuracy. He also claims 81% percent accuracy for another model about which marriages survived after seven to nine years. His prediction method, which relies on Paul Ekman’s method of analyzing human emotion and microexpressions, is also featured in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink and the television series The Human Face.
In his book, The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work, Gottman discusses behaviors that he has observed in marriages that are successful and those that are detrimental to marriage based on his research conducted at his lab in Seattle, Washington. He has outlined seven principles that will reinforce the positive aspects of a relationship and help marriages endure during the rough moments:
1. Enhance Your Love Maps. Gottman defines a love map as the place in your brain where you store information pertaining to your partner. This is crucial in really knowing your partner, their dreams, hopes, interests, and maintaining their interest throughout the relationship.
2. Nurture Your Fondness and Admiration. This means laying down a positive view about your spouse, respecting and appreciating their differences.
3. Turn Toward Each Other Instead of Away. Acknowledging your partner’s small moments in life and orienting yourself towards them will maintain that necessary connection that is vital for the relationship.
4. Let Your Partner Influence You. It is important to maintain your own identity in a relationship, but it is equally important to yield to your partner and give in. If both partners allow one another this influence, then they will learn to respect one another on a deeper level.
5. Solve Your Solvable Problems. It is important to compromise on issues that can be resolved, which Gottman believes can be accomplished by these five steps: soften your startup, learn to make and receive repair attempts, soothe yourself and each other, compromise, and be tolerant of each other’s faults.
6. Overcome Gridlock. Major issues that cannot be resolved because both partners’ views are so fundamentally different involves understanding of the other person and deep communication. The goal is to at least get to a position that allows the other person to empathize with the partner’s view, even if a compromise cannot be reached.
7. Create Shared Meaning. Create a shared value system that continually connects the partners through rituals/traditions, shared roles and symbols.
Gottman has published over 190 papers, and is the author or co-author of 40 books, notably:
* Why Marriages Succeed or Fail…and How You Can Make Yours Last (Simon & Schuster, 1994)
* Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child: The Heart of Parenting (Simon and Schuster, 1997) – written with Joan Declaire
* The Marriage Clinic (W.W. Norton, 1999), W W Norton page
* The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (Crown Publishers, 1999) – a New York Times bestseller
* The Relationship Cure, A 5-Step Guide for Building Better Connections with Family, Friends, and Lovers (Crown Publishers, 2001)
* Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage: America’s Love Lab Experts Share Their Strategies for Strengthening Your Relationship (Crown Publishers, 2006)
* And Baby Makes Three: The Six-Step Plan for Preserving Marital Intimacy and Rekindling Romance After Baby Arrives (Crown Publishers, 2007)
Information about The Gottman Method and Gottman Couples Therapy are available on: http://www.gottmanprofessionaltraining.com/Welcome.html This is an example of topics they cover during their training:
The Research: What Makes Relationships Succeed or Fail?
• What is different about Gottman Method Couples Therapy
• What is dysfunctional about relationships when they are ailing
• The “Masters” and Disasters” of relationships: Exploding some common myths
• Negative and positive sentiment overrides
• Friendship, Intimacy, Positive Affect System
• The Shared Meaning System
• The Sound Relationship House Theory
How to assess a relationship using The Sound Relationship House Theory
• Rapoport Intervention and film
• Ending the Four Horsemen and film
• Dreams Within Conflict and film
• Building the Basic Skills (Softened Start-up, Accepting Influence, Repair and De-escalation, Physiological Soothing, Compromise)
• Aftermath of a Fight and film
Building Friendship and Shared Meaning
• Build Love Maps
• Turn Towards: The Stress-Reducing Conversation and film
• Build Rituals of Connection and film
• Create Shared Meaning and film