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The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  2,155 ratings  ·  184 reviews
A groundbreaking, practical program for transforming troubled relationships into positive ones

“This is the best book on relationships I have ever read. . . . John Gottman has decoded the subtle secrets that can either enrich or destroy the quality of our ties with others.” Daniel B. Wile, Ph.D., author of After the Fight: Using Your Disagreements to Build a Stronger Relati
Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 25th 2002 by Harmony (first published May 22nd 2001)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  2,155 ratings  ·  184 reviews

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Nov 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: life
Very interesting book about what makes relationships work or fail to work. The premise is that relationships are built from bids for connection, which can be anything from making a comment to inviting someone to lunch, requesting help, or touching someone. The other person in the relationship can respond in one of three ways:
- turning toward the bid: responding in a way that conveys "I heard you, and I care," ranging from nodding or making a face in agreement to a serious emotional response. Thi
Ken Householder
Sep 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: humans.
This book is about relationships and fostering understanding of emotions in yourself and others. Gottman lays it all out so intuitively that there is no question whether or not he is accurate. It's like an owners manual for people. I wish I would have read it 10 years ago...

This is one of the very few books that I'm going to keep as a reference. Most of the time I can read and absorb all of the content from a book and sell it, give it away, whatever. But, the excercises and materials in this boo
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ah, John Gottman. Such wonderful research, such terrible titles.

Anyway, I already had to return this book to the library so I can only give you my impressions-- as my sister says, "the spaghetti that's stuck to the wall." So here goes:

Interactions involve people making "bids" for attention, affection, connection. When we respond successfully to others' bids, we are able to make strong and resilient relationships at home, work, school.

When someone makes a bid, you can respond either by turning t
Jan 14, 2013 rated it liked it
I'm not well-versed in the self-help/relationship genre, so I don't have much to compare this with. I found it to have its good and bad points.

First, the good: I think the exercises throughout this book would be quite helpful simply for directing one's thoughts about interactions within a relationship and how they can be improved. This alone merits the three stars.

The bad: Some of the language in this book grates on me. Why must Gottman use the word "bid" for attempts at emotional connection? Th
Aug 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Dr. John Gottman’s research on successful marriages at his laboratory at the University of Washington blazed new trails in the realm of psychology. With the publication of his seminal work The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Gottman literally wrote the book on how to save failing marriages. Every relationship book written since that pivotal text has been heavily influenced by Gottman’s research.

It has been my experience that authors who discover successful psychological techniques ten
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love Gottman's books because his advice is so practical and his view of relationships and marriage is pretty realistic and unromantic. You need to accept the bids of your colleagues, friends, and spouse. You have to make time for these relationships. That was my biggest takeaway, but there are many more. I think I will read a Gottman book every year and make sure I am not being a jerk to the people I love. ...more
Dec 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kenny Tang
Interesting read. Stories were simple and easy to understand. Got into this book because of a section in Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink" in which he claimed Gottman's research allowed researchers to predict relationship outcomes with near certainty with just minutes of observation. I was thinking that it would have some magical formula in which if people curled their lip or moved their eyebrows a certain way and TADA!! You knew they were perfect or doomed. But after reading the book, it just made goo ...more
Heidi Goehmann
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: family
A great resource, bad title. Gottman, as always, backs up each segment with solid research. The beauty of this book is that Gottman doesn’t limit the research and resources to marriage, but gives insightful tools and insight for all different kinds of relationship - marriage, parent/child, siblings, friendships, and coworkers. There are exercises and usable inventories for individuals, and they would be great resources for mental health professionals as well. I wish they would do a second editio ...more
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
At first, I was very hesitant about this book due to its "cheesy" title, but once I started it, I couldn't stop reading. This book should be read by everyone regardless of how they feel about their current relationships; no later if they are single or in a relationship. This book has incredibly valuable information and practical tips on how we can better communicate with others- at work, at home, with strangers, etc. A gen of a book! ...more
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I thought some of the concepts here were really useful, particularly the one about "bidding." ...more
Aug 20, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I picked up this book not because I have particular trouble with relationships but because I immensely enjoyed the first book of Gottman's that I read (Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child). As such, I found the book to be a bit uninteresting at times and, admittedly, I could not bring myself to finish the book. That said, I still rate this book a "3" because it has great insights into the basic building block of relationships (the "bid"), and I am a much better person because of it. I now h ...more
Billy Young
The main takeaway for me is the definition of the 'emotional bid' (of putting a piece of yourself out there looking for someone to engage positively), and the observations of turning toward, turning against, and turning away as the possible responses. The remaining portions of the book are how to bid effectively (account for factors like ECS/personality, emotional history, personal ideals/dreams).
Emotional command systems have some overlap with the Enneagram system but also some distinguishing f
Dec 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
If I could rate this book based just on the first third, I would give it 5 stars. The premise of the book is that we all make bids and the way our partners respond to them had a strong impact on the quality of the relationship. (See every other goodreads review and an inevitable upcoming blog post for more details.)

But as with so many therapy books, everything after the beginning felt repetitive, which made it challenging to urge myself to pick up the book one I made it past the meaty part.

Amanda Rahimian
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel like this book should be mandatory reading for adulthood. It discusses emotional connections, or bids, in every type of adult relationship: romantic, friendships, adult siblings, parent-children, and coworkers. The way we respond to those bids is the basis of our emotional communication with one another, and is impacted by our upbringing as well as by our genetic disposition (the 7 emotional sections of the brain). A fascinating book, very well-written and full not only of great facts and ...more
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars. Good info. I would suggest reading this in conjunction with Marshall B. Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. ...more
Jun 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Based on his years of scientific research, John Gottman has concised his findings about building and maintaining good relationships in this book. This is not the first book I’m reading by this author, and it will not be the last. I have learn so much from him. What he has shared has given me such great insights about the relationships I have with those around me and how I can improve them. I absolutely recommend this author and his works.
Jun 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-improvement
Gottman is always good; I love reading about his research!
Patricia Lonadier
May 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Very helpful and practical tips for any relationship. Simple but profound with great examples and exercises inside!
Scout Collins
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my second John Gottman book. It was not as good or as easy to get through as The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work, but it was still good overall.
My main complaint (not criticism, haha) is that the last 100 pages of the book were very repetitive, with "sibling", "parent", "coworker", "partner" and "friend" substituted into the same batch of questions over and over again in each separate section. The last 100 pages of the book were hardest to get through, and the book was dragging on
Jan 28, 2012 rated it liked it
I thought this book's central idea was/is life-changing, but the delivery was so-so.

Basically, the idea is that we're continuously making 'bids for connection' with others. This could be questions, words, actions, literally anything where we're, in part, saying "connect with me".

When we get such a bid, we can accept it, reject it, or ignore it. Accepting makes the relationship stronger and happier. Rejecting makes the relationship worse, but still leaves it emotionally engaged. Ignoring makes th
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wow, that was a good read. Maybe it's the fact that I'm reading this for a course, but I honestly would have preferred if Gottman uses more academic terms to describe theories. You know, just to look more "credible". Instead, it feels like any other (mediocre) self-help books I've read. I mean common, a love map?
Needless to say, this book deserves a 4.5. And knowing myself, I'll definitely go through the exercises and work things out with future relationships.
Jul 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
I liked this book, and I think a lot of the advice in it is generally applicable to a lot of relationships, and probably will be very helpful to anybody who is interested in building stronger and more satisfying relationships with the people around them. This isn't just for romantic relationships, but includes things like coworkers, parent/child, siblings, friends, etc. This book will help teach you to be more aware of the ways in which people try to connect to you, through the "bid" that the au ...more
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This is a very important book. It's essentially Emotional Intelligence 101 — the Dummies version — and I generally mean that in a very good way. I kind of wish everyone could read this book. Since starting it, I have spontaneously applied something I have learned from it practically every day, and I can see the difference it makes in all sorts of human transactions and relationships.

That said, I'm not a fan of the author's writing style. He's a bit of an over-analytical geek, he's a little too f
Jul 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
I found the idea of "bids" for interaction to be interesting. It will make me more aware of when and how others are trying to connect. As far as other parts of the book go, they may have resonated less because they seemed similar to personality testing and evaluations I have been forced to do in the corporate world. For those not exposed to, for example, the DISC system, there may be a greater degree of interest. The portion of the book relating to being in touch or comfortable with various type ...more
Rosanna Chau
May 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm only a chapter in but I really like the author's concept about how to enhance one's relationship with others, be it parents, siblings, coworkers, significant others, by simply reframing one's request for emotional connection, and learning how to respond to others' requests. Many 'miscommunication' issues, and occasions of feeling ignored, can be avoided by learning how to communicate one's needs. I also like how he gives perspective on how one's family background and previous experiences can ...more
Jul 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Even though I read other Gottman books, this book had new material and covered a wider variety of topics: emotional bids (which are the basic unit of relationships), how to succeed in making and receiving bids to improve relationships, emotional command systems (which are archetypes of motivation such as nest building), emotional heritage, emotional communication (such as facial expressions and metaphors), shared meaning, rituals, and applications to a variety of relationship types. The importan ...more
Mar 25, 2008 rated it liked it
actually, i didnt really finish this book. but i think i'm done reading it for now. i could see myself coming back to it later. it just wasn't what i was looking for at the time. but it's well written and it's interesting enough. it's not dumbed down or patronizing.

it's for people who aren't very intuitive about what other people are thinking. and for people who are wrapped up in their own feelings. or people who feel disconnected from others and they don't know why.

mostly this book is rooted i
Katrina Sark
Dec 30, 2013 rated it did not like it
p.139 – When you say that your brother “really pushes your buttons,” it’s because you felt that he knows how to elicit an automatic response from you. Your brother utters some familiar remark “guaranteed” t make you angry, and – whoosh! – your feelings take off down that old familiar path. Hard as you might try to change it, you end up feeling the same way you’ve always felt when those buttons get pushed. This explains why it’s often so hard for people who’ve had difficult relationships with par ...more
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book mainly for the thought-provoking idea of "bidding", and the application of turning-towards, rather than turning-away, and turning against.

Gottman's research has helped me address the issue of emotions, where once I was not sure or too uncomfortable to acknowledge, I can now be assured that it's not weird or weak to understand them, despite whether I've been taught to think of certain feelings positively or negatively.

There were some pages that were a struggle to read d
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John Mordecai Gottman is an American psychological researcher and clinician who did extensive work over four decades on divorce prediction and marital stability. He is also an award-winning speaker, author, and a professor emeritus in psychology.

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“Carnegie was right when he wrote, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” 1 likes
“(...) I also believe that most crabby people can change by making a conscious choice to react to the world in a different way. The key is to scan your environment regularly for things and people to appreciate rather than to criticize. In so doing, you create a new climate of praise and gratitude in your life. Instead of getting bogged down in people’s faults and mistakes, you get swept up in a fruitful search for reasons to say “thank you.” 1 likes
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