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The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,327 Ratings  ·  595 Reviews
Just as Masters and Johnson were pioneers in the study of human sexuality, so Dr. John Gottman has revolutionized the study of marriage. As a professor of psychology at the University of Washington and the founder and director of the Seattle Marital and Family Institute, he has studied the habits of married couples in unprecedented detail over the course of many years. His ...more
Kindle Edition, 266 pages
Published (first published January 1st 1999)
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Adam
Aug 20, 2012 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you can get past Gottman's ego in the first few chapters, you'll find some very sensible and useful advice from his extensive study of couples. Some of it seems obvious, some not, but all the content worthwhile to review at some level, probably every 5 years or so. There are even questionnaire/exercises in each chapter.

Some key points (from memory)
Be friends; invest time daily in knowing what/who's bothering or exciting the other; don't necessarily try to "fix" unresolvable conflicts (you don
...more
Billie Pritchett
John Gottman's Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work provides in detail the ways in which a person could have a healthy marriage and by extension the principles also generally apply to romantic relationships in general and perhaps even just friendships. I'll put this principles in my own words to make them more perspicuous; you can read the book if you want his words.

The first principle is to increase your knowledge about each other. You ought to be able to know, for example, who your signif
...more
Dana
Mar 07, 2008 Dana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-reads
An excellent book that I think married and single people who would like to one day marry should read! John Gottman and Nan Silver studied marriages for over twenty years, following the same couples. They observed how the couples talked to each other...the every day chit chat, the serious conversations and even the fights. What they curiously observed is that fighting is not what breaks marriages up. In fact, fighting can be good for marriages in some ways.

What they did find is that in the couple
...more
Mike
Jun 21, 2009 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to dislike this book. The title looks like a bald-faced rip-off of Stephen Covey and the author seems to think he's the only person who has ever had a profound thought about marriage. Gottman proclaims that his ideas are different, but there are many similarities between his prescriptions and those of the therapists he disdains. Still, my full head of righteous indignation was wasted, because Gottman won me over by the end.

First, some background. Early in my own marriage I took a serie
...more
John Brown
Jan 11, 2011 John Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Back in April of this year, Dr. Liz Hale, a licensed clinical psychologist, started her remarks to a local audience of more than 100 mental health professionals by saying, “Dear fellow colleagues, you are in danger of having an affair.”

Her point was that every marriage, even those of the marriage gurus, is vulnerable to infidelity–be it sexual or emotional. Individuals have to actively curb all the subtle and often innocent beginnings that lead to unfaithfulness.

“We make the mistake of thinking
...more
Edward
Mar 13, 2009 Edward rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Why is it considered normal to consult a manual and put work into maintaining a car, but not a relationship?

This book can be pretty cheesey a lot of the time, but it contains lots of exercises, is easy to read, and is based on principles and evidence that is highly regarded in the field (which surprised me).

From his experimental "love lab", Gottman observed tons of couples that worked and didn't. His findings inform the book. Some nuggets:
- most arguments cannot be resolved
- biggest predictors o
...more
Lindsay
Jun 22, 2010 Lindsay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-science
I first read about Gottman's marriage research in Maclom Gladwell's Blink. Since I am interested in all things social science, I picked up this book at the library. The content is interesting and applicable, even if some/much of it feels common sense. The biggest downfall of the book is Gottman's egoistic prose. (He has been at the forefront of research in his field - and I would have believed him the first time he mentioned it.)
Lacey Louwagie
Although part of me thinks I shouldn't read so many books about marriage before I'm married (it can be depressing to sift through all the potential problems that are being addressed in these self-help books), I'm also drawn to them because it's so hard for me to wrap my head around the reality of marriage, and I've always been someone for whom research has provided much reassurance and comfort. So, although I might be putting the cart before the horse, I really like to get things right!

As far as
...more
Lena
Sep 16, 2008 Lena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Dr. John Gottman became famous for his work in Seattle's "Love Lab," a research apartment wired with cameras he used to observe how volunteer couples communicated with one another. Through his observations, Gottman discovered patterns of communication that correlate with lasting relationships.

Among Gottman’s observations was that the frequency of a couple’s fights had less to do with relationship success than other factors including whether or not they had compatible styles of dealing with conf
...more
Jared
Sep 03, 2008 Jared rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite quote in the whole book: “Working briefly on your marriage every day will do more for your health and longevity than working out at a health club” (p. 261).

Overall, one of the better books I've seen on fostering a happy marriage. A very useful read for any couple seeking to improve their conflict resolution skills or just strengthen their relationship. Gottman's principles are supported by some of the best research anywhere on marital relations, although he's obviously very proud of
...more
PhilorChelsy
Jan 29, 2012 PhilorChelsy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chelsys-readings
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hawley
May 26, 2012 Hawley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Matt's reading this for class, and though it's a secular book, he says it's really pretty fantastic. He was right. It's based on years of in-depth scientific research and doesn't just theorize potential trendy ways to re-phrase things and thereby "improve communication" in a marriage. It's not gimmicky, but it does have different exercises you can do with your spouse to help you to figure out some of the roots of things... I mostly skipped those, but found the book affirming of my marriage (whic ...more
Karen
Oct 25, 2009 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is immensely practical as a guide to what matters about how couples treat each other, and why these things matter so much.

For me, it illuminated a repeated conflict in my marriage so that I finally understood what was wrong with what I'd been doing.

Also, we both loved the phrase, "thoughts of righteous indignation or innocent victimhood" (they're a no-no, btw) and now whenever one of us seems to be sulking or nursing a grudge, the other one will ask, "Are you having thoughts of.....?"
...more
Kate
Oct 08, 2015 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author thinks rather highly of himself and his research, but as annoying as his attitude is, he does make some excellent points. I've been married for almost eleven years, and while I consider my marriage to be quite healthy, I definitely found this book to be helpful and informative.
Teresa
Aug 15, 2014 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Informative, useful book that helped me quantify certain priorities that my husband and I have always had in our marriage. We are very strong in certain areas, but of course every marriage could use some work and this book helped us to really hone in on what those areas are and see how we can actually address them. I found a lot of the exercises to be useful, but others were silly and felt a bit condescending. At least one was contest that we were supposed to do with other couples, which is high ...more
Ted
Dec 29, 2014 Ted added it
Excellent practical advice

Void of self help hyperbole. Instead of focusing on what not to do this book focuses on what to do. It throws conventional wisdom on its head and examines results instead.

The theme, if there truly is one, is "agree to disagree." This may bit sit well; however it's borne out of research as well as anecdotal evidence.

Lastly, though not mentioned specifically by name, much of the advice suggests that personal pride is the ultimate genesis of most marital conflict.
Evan
Jan 30, 2013 Evan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A "MUST READ" marriage owner's manual that is virtually the gold standard in relationship counseling and deserves to be so. This and Chapman's Five Love Languages are universally recommended.

I met these concepts when one of my best friends went through a divorce, and then in detail during my own failing marriage. If one of you reads it, it can help, but if both of you read and take notes, this can be a game changer - if not for this relationship then the next.

If you are reading this, than your r
...more
Angela
Dec 06, 2009 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help
I picked up this book when I read an excerpt about a long-married couple who swept all of their major problems under a rug and never discussed their relationship. I was curious to discover how they could be considered "happily married" when they broke all the rules of communication and compromise.

What I discovered through reading this book is irreconcilable differences exist in EVERY marriage, even happy ones!

Mr. Gottman shows how to live with irreconcilable differences in seven simple steps.
...more
Amber
Jun 27, 2012 Amber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really like how hopeful this book is - comes at problems from the starting point of thinking the relationship can work.
I also like how honest he is with stats about how often marriage counseling succeeds and fails and about his own success rate in predicting whether couples will stay together or break up. It helps you trust that he knows what he is talking about (based on years of research) and is being realistic.

There are concrete tips on communication, listening, and fighting. He talks about
...more
Rachelle
Mar 12, 2010 Rachelle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I probably should rank this book higher. I think the principles are sound and obviously well researched. I imagine that everything he says in here is true. It's just not the kind of marriage book that inspires me. It is too much of "do this and don't do this" rather than providing inspiration and perspective on marriage. For example one chapter talks about chores that he does/she does and contains a list of chores that you can go through with your spouse to determine what is fair. Stuff like tha ...more
Hana Bilqisthi
Sep 15, 2013 Hana Bilqisthi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, marriage
Principle 1: Enhance Your Love Maps
Principle 2: Nurture Your Fondness and Admiration
Principle 3: Turn toward Each Other Instead of Away
Principle 4: Let Your Partner Influence You
Principle 5: Solve Your Solvable Problems
Principle 6: Overcome Gridlock .
Principle 7: Create Shared Meaning

"When choosing a long-term partner…you will
inevitably be choosing a particular set of unsolvable problems that
you'll be grappling with for the next ten, twenty or fifty years."


Just because a problem is solvable
...more
Steven Starr
Jan 20, 2015 Steven Starr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I chose this book after reading all the good reviews it had received. It outlines the many open and hidden issues couples have during a marriage. Not just with each other, but themselves. He gives some sound advice on communicating these issues, and maybe not solving them. but developing a way where both find a way an acceptable solution to deal with them. There are many exercises in the book that were very helpful upon reading, and I look forward to doing them with my wife.

I would recommend th
...more
Forty Something
This book should be mandatory reading for all newlyweds. The advice is sound and realistic, especially when discussing the difficulty of repairing love in the midst of a crisis.

The content is so rich, I think that it can hardly even be neatly divided into seven principles. Some principles have subparts that are just as important.

Ideally, people would read this in the early stages of marriage, when everything is still great, so that they become aware of the potential pitfalls. However, if you'r
...more
Vivian
Sep 18, 2015 Vivian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in 2012 and I just read it again (2015)
I think this is the best self help marriage book I have ever read (for me) because it helped me to realize that most of the problems we have are because of me. I have to be the change that I want.

Some of the stuff is workbook - and it is hard for us to do those, but the practical stuff that I read was REALLY good and has already helped my attitude.

I need to read and re-read these books because I forget.

John Gottman is good. I will read m
...more
Jeremy Serrano
Jan 02, 2016 Jeremy Serrano rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: family
I highly recommend this book for those whose marriages are going well and those who need help. Each chapter comes with questions and there is an accompaniment workbook.
Garry Bartle
Jul 28, 2015 Garry Bartle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably my favorite book yet on building and strengthening relationships. Love the approach and focus on what works vs. what doesn't. Highly recommended!
Eric
Feb 23, 2013 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dr. Gottman has some very good advice for couples. He is a little off-putting in his somewhat arrogant attitude which conveys that he knows everything about everyone. ("I can tell in the first five minutes of a conversation with 92% accuracy that..." blah blah blah.) He also seems to run out of things to say after the first half of the book and ends up repeating himself.

Still, don't let that discourage married couples from giving the book a try. It has several activities which could be fun, in a
...more
Zach Gray
Jul 24, 2015 Zach Gray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: marriage
Research-based approach to relationships, not not totally without the cheesy talk. Gottman appears to be the authority on the subject.
MCOH
Aug 29, 2008 MCOH rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We're reading this one for next month's book club. I liked that the advice was generally gender-neutral - both spouses are encouraged to avoid contempt & stone-walling, both are encouraged to be willing to be influenced by each other, and so on. Most of the ideas were common-sense ways of relating to your spouse with respect and kindness. Reading this made me feel even more grateful for my really good husband and marriage. My only criticism of the book is that I could have done without so ma ...more
D
Oct 21, 2015 D rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: counselling
Top of the list of books on marriage that I've read
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Dr. Gottman is the co-founder of the Gottman Institute with his wife, Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, where he currently teaches weekend workshops for couples and training workshops for clinicians. He is the Executive Director of the Relationship Research Institute, where they are developing programs for parents transitioning to parenthood and are beginning a new research project on treatment for Dome ...more
More about John M. Gottman...

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“In the midst of a bitter dispute, the husband or wife picks up a ringing telephone and is suddenly all smiles: “Oh, hi. Yes, it would be great to have lunch. No problem, Tuesday would be fine. Oh, I am so sorry to hear that you didn’t get the job. You must feel so disappointed,” and so on.” 4 likes
“Some people leave a marriage literally, by divorcing. Others do so by leading parallel lives together.” 2 likes
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