Strengthen the friendship at the heart of your marriage

The following seven principles, based on the work of Dr. John Gottman, focus on positive interactions between individuals in a relationship. Conflict is a part of every marriage. Some conflicts may be unresolvable. However, all conflicts can be overcome if underlying feelings of mutual positive regard are present. A strong and lasting marriage is a loving marriage. But the foundation of this love, according to Gottman, is honest and reciprocal friendship.

  • 1. Know each other. Learn your spouses likes, dislikes, wishes, hopes, dreams, etc.
  • 2. Focus on  positive qualities, positive feelings for each other, and the good times you have shared with each other.
  • 3. Interact frequently, tell each other about your day, your thoughts, your experiences. Romance is fueled not by candlelight dinners, but by interacting with your partner in numerous little ways.
  • 4. “Let your partner influence you.” Translation: share power.
  • 5. “Solve your solvable problems.” Translation: Communicate respectfully, use “I” statements, criticize behavior without criticizing your partner, take a break when you’re getting too upset, and compromise. Gottman asserts that in both happy and unhappy marriages, more than 80% of the time the wife brings up marital conflicts while the husband tries to avoid discussing them.
  • 6. “Overcome gridlock.” Translation: understand your partner’s underlying feelings which are preventing resolution of the conflict.
  • 7. “Create shared meaning.” Translation: share values, attitudes, interests, traditions.

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