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

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  6,150 ratings  ·  519 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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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Adam
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
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
John Brown
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
Mike
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
Edward
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
Lena
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
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
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
Lindsay
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.)
Hawley
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
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
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
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
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
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
PhilorChelsy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rachelle
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
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
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
Eric Sundquist
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
MCOH
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
Becki
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work - John M. Gottman, Ph.D. 9/18\n \nSummary from B&N: John Gottman has revolutionized the study of marriage by using rigorous scientific procedures to observe the habits of married couples in unprecedented detail over many years. Here is the culmination of his life's work: the seven principles that guide couples on the path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship. Packed with practical questionnaires and exercises, The Seven Principles fo ...more
BHodges
Seven Principles is a research-based book addressing a variety of marital difficulties. Gottman bases his advice on clinical studies—observable, repeatable, and quantifiable data—which makes the heart-directed core of his book all the more more surprising. It promotes a science of emotion and communication. It's a bit on the long side due to its many examples and descriptions, but it's worth sticking through to the end. The questionnaires peppered throughout the book are particularly useful at h ...more
Laura Hughes
I probably shouldn't rate self-help books; I don't like the genre. In my defense, I wasn't expecting this to be such a typical self-help book. I know of John Gottman from his research referenced in other books (Malcolm Gladwell and others), so I thought that his book would go more into the science and the findings of his lab. Instead, it was basically a therapist's marriage class in book form. There were a lot of quizzes and handouts and exercises. The few times it used statistics it did so in a ...more
Tamara Lehmann
I really enjoyed that this book came from a scientific perspective as opposed to the 'This worked for my marriage' perspective I seem to find in any type of relationship book. The author did a study where he watched how couples interacted with each other under normal conversations, while asking them questions, etc and then he also followed up with them years later to see the current outcome of their marriage/relationship. Based on this study, he came up with these 7 principles.
Going through the
...more
Renee
This guy is the marriage self-help guru. He's quoted in literally every marriage book I read- and a book on change I skimmed today. The only thing I disliked is his sometimes pretentious attitude, but maybe he's earned it! He's studied marriage more than anyone else and believes that he knows how to diagnose the problems in marriages and how to fix those problems. This book was short, easy to digest and I copied the "end of chapter questions" for discussion with my partner. I highly recommend it ...more
Polly
Nov 28, 2011 Polly rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Polly by: Caroline
Shelves: polly
I like that the book is based on research. One good reminder: "96% of the time you can predict the outcome of a conversation based on the first three minutes of the the 15 minute interaction, so a harsh startup dooms you to failure." There is no use talking to someone who feels flooded, so wait and talk later. Always be willing to accept repair attempts. Keep happy memories alive, know each other's lives, nurture admiration. The book seemed to focus on keeping the friendship strong.
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31960
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...
Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage: America's Love Lab Experts Share Their Strategies for Strengthening Your Relationship And Baby Makes Three: The Six-Step Plan for Preserving Marital Intimacy and Rekindling Romance After Baby Arrives

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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
“But in their day-to-day lives, they have hit upon a dynamic that keeps their negative thoughts and feelings about each other (which all couples have) from overwhelming their positive ones. They have what I call an emotionally intelligent marriage.” 2 likes
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