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Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last
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Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,811 ratings  ·  191 reviews
Psychologist John Gottman has spent twenty years studying what makes a marriage last. Now you can use his tested methods to evaluate, strengthen, and maintain your own long-term relationship.

This breakthrough book guides you through a series of self-tests designed to help you determine what kind of marriage you have, where your strengths and weaknesses are, and what specif
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Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 1st 1995 by Simon Schuster (first published January 1st 1994)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  1,811 ratings  ·  191 reviews


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Kelsey
May 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
The synopsis of this book doesn't cover the portion I felt was most important. The author defines sure warning signs of behavior that guarantees a failed marriage. He calls them The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. They are Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness and Stonewalling. I admit I've employed all four. There are examples and questionnaires to help the in-denial reader. In changing bad behavior it suggests a preventable unhappy ending. I think it helped me at least understand myself better a ...more
John Yelverton
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely fascinating read that blew me away with some of the observations and results of the author's findings.
Margot
Dec 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
John Gottman, named one of the Top 10 Most Influential Therapists of the last quarter-century, is a professor emeritus and experimental psychologist at the University of Washington who spent 40 years researching relationships and has been the recipient of numerous awards on his work.

Whether you're married or not, this book explains Gottman's scientific research methods and then delves right into his findings on successful and unsuccessful relationships and how to make yours work. What I found mo
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Collette
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio, 2016-audio
The studies in this book were references in Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink. It described a little bit about how Gottman and his team would observe couples and using a formula would track every eye twitch, lip curl, tone of voice change and be able to predict with 94% accuracy if the marriage would succeed or fail. It sounded fascinating, so I wanted to hear more. I got more and it was good. It breaks down 3 types of successful marriages that don't all look so great from the casual onlooker, but a ...more
Laney
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I hate being introspective, so it took me a minute to get into this book and be comfortable with it. I kind of wanted to cover my ears and shout LALALA just in case he described something and all the sudden my (what I think to be) happy marriage would be revealed to be actually really awful. Happily, that didn't happen, and I could immediately see which of the 3 stable marriage styles he describes we fit into, and then I could continue feeling good about my marriage and begin to enjoy the book a ...more
Rachel
Mar 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
My name is Rachel and I am addicted to self help books. =) No, but really. I really enjoy reading books that help me better understand the human psyche. I have read another book by Gottman before but it was more practical about how to take a struggling marriage and turn it around, and I was more interested in the science behind it, because his methods fascinate me. This one was exactly what I wanted. Excellent book. Very interesting but also had enough practical information to really help in are ...more
Erika RS
May 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: formerly-owned
I would rate this book higher if it weren't for my knowledge that Gottman's later books are generally better than this one.

This book has a lot of solid advice about relationships, much of which applies to relationships in general, and not just marital relationships. The advice is concrete, actionable, and easy to understand. There's just enough repetition to reinforce the ideas without making the book tedious.

So why the low rating? The tone is very oriented toward those who feel that they are in
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Ashley
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Inspiring and makes me want to be a better partner. Biggest takeaways: be more validating, empathetic, and understanding. More affectionate. Volatility is okay as long as it’s balanced by lots of laughter and positive emotions.

A good marriage requires a lot of self-discipline and holding your tongue.
Alyne
Dec 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Well, originally I was planning on giving it either 3 or 4 stars. With books that have PHD emblazoned across the front, I tend to trust that they will have something to tell me that I don't already know. While this book did have some nice guidelines, they seemed antiquated and rather obvious. The worst part was the repetitive redundancy (see what I did there? haaah). It was really intolerable. I think I read about the same 4 marriage pitfalls in every chapter. Another drawback were the case stud ...more
Kristen
May 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology, 2013
Gottman did this landmark study of married couples that just about every book on marriage relationships ever since quotes from. I finally decided I might as well go right to the primary source and read the book on the original study since sometimes I like to pretend I'm taking a psychology course on relationships.;) I enjoyed the book. Lots of interesting points.
Jenae
Oct 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Dr. Gottman was one of my professors at Penn State. This book is extremely helpful to any marital relationship. Take your time reading it, take written and mental notes, and apply what you learn to every day life. You might be surprised by how much it can help make your relationships better than ever!
Haley Brackett
Nov 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic read! This author is absolutely brilliant. I've always been a fan of his "Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child," and this book was just as good. He even discusses the importance of validation for your spouse in this book as well. I'm a firm believer in John Gottman's work.
Jackie
Jan 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
While this may seem like obvious advice to some, many people should read this, especially those young couples that haven't learned how to resolve conflicts without attacking their partner. I know because I've been there. I'm likely to gift this to some young couples I know.
Sandy
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Overall good, science-backed relationship advice. But the info in this book has now been updated by 20 *more* years of science. This is a good intro to Gottman's work, but I recommend following up this book with one of his newer ones for an update on the science.
Annd
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Gottman is brilliant! So, anything by him is great! But, this book is especially wonderful because I actually recall the information years and years after reading it! It just sticks with you!
Nick Fanelli
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book worked perfectly! I now know just how to make my marriage fail!
Amber Lea
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is basically The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work with way better editing. Even though this one was written first? I get the feeling he's just writing the same book over and over again. But this book is much clearer and more concise, and I'd recommend this one if you're tying to decide between the two. (There's no reason to read both.)

There's some stuff about gender in the middle that didn't speak to me at all because I'm always the one obsessing about what's logical and poo-pooing
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Tony Boyles
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Seems like pretty solid marital advice, but Gottman falls into the trap he accuses of all other marital self-help books, which is relying upon his anecdotal experience as a counselor, rather than "science". What precisely he meant by science to include his own work while excluding the rest of the field I'm not certain.

also, having been written in the 90s, he relies on an outdated set of definitions of marriage and related concepts. Thus it's a bit too privileged to garner my recommendation. Ther
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Melissa
Oct 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Couples, students studying human sexuality
Recommended to Melissa by: A professor
This book was used for a human sexuality course and seemed to do well as far as introducing freshman to deeper aspects of relationships. The book also would a good book for couples to read together even in a relationship that is going well. It's a good tool in examining and understanding relationshisp.
Kimberly
Nov 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Are you married? Read this book!
Esther Kemball
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I bought this book because I am getting married on 25th April this year and I want to be prepared. This book seems more geared towards people who have already been married for a few years and are having problems than people who are about to get married and want to have good advice in advance.
I found some of its advice potentially useful (but you will have to ask me again in 10 years to know if it is actually any good.)

I chose this book over the many others on the same subject for two reasons: a
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Diana Pojar
Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Not really what I was expecting, but still a good book that offered some good advice and perspectives on how to react and be more self aware of possible reactions during intense conversations.

The booked focused around 4 behaviors (complaint, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling) and how to avoid, detect and remove there behaviors. And after multiple studies done by author, the presence of all these 4, predicted with more than 90% a failed marriage.

I think couples that go through many argum
...more
Keith
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: marriage
An excellent book on how to turn a failing marriage into a happy marriage. Unlike many other books, this one is based on research. Although most of the book describes problems, the tone is positive - he believes that most unhappy marriages can be saved. It requires work, a lot of work, but the techniques are simple enough to learn and practice them until they become second nature.
Annie Schmitz
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very informational. I picked it up as a premarital counseling and I learned many good things to make sure my marriage is successful. Would highly recommend to anyone in a marriage that’s considering divorce but wants to try one last time to save it.
Ashley Jacoby
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great book whether married or not. It really shows you what kind of person you are during arguments and how to adjust your behaviors to help resolve issues. It also helps you to recognize how the other party is and to adjust to work out conflict.
Jon Barr
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
I especially liked how the authors compared types of personalities and how each combination of types can use unique strategies to fix problems.
Sarah
Sep 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Here’s where I put my disclaimer that I’m not anywhere close to getting married, just doing some extra-advanced scouting :)

Took a lot of great insights about communication in a relationship from this one. Specifically, found the “four horsemen of the apocalypse” (criticism, contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling) to be very useful concepts, as well as the taxonomy of validating/volatile/avoidant relationship communication styles. Definitely will reconsider some of my own behavior as a result of t
...more
Megan
Oct 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
John Gottman is a well respected clinician and speaker. His books are so valuable in the easy to understand ways for making a marriage work, how to communicate with your spouse, and looking inwards at oneself.
Miranda Lynn
I'm not really sure how this started out, but a couple of weeks ago, I got it in my head that I wanted to read some books about marriage. But it was much harder finding one that I was interested in than I thought it was going to be. I didn't realize this, but (not really that surprisingly) most of the marriage books out their are religion-focused. And that's not exactly what I was looking for. I ended up finding two (of out hundreds!) on Goodreads that seemed to be what I had in mind, and checke ...more
Sharon
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009
I commend the author who has turned his scientific research of the precursors of divorce into a helpful volume for popular reading.
Some points I would add to previous reviews are these. Since it is scientifically based the author's strength is not in "playing the blame game." This makes it possible for couples to discuss the concepts without feeling threatened. Couples are recognized as having their own styles of communication, volatile, validating or avoident. If both partners are happy with th
...more
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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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18 likes · 8 comments
“Like the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which says that in closed energy systems things tend to run down and get less orderly, the same seems to be true of closed relationships like marriages. My guess is that if you do nothing to make things get better in your marriage but do not do anything wrong, the marriage will still tend to get worse over time. To maintain a balanced emotional ecology you need to make an effort—think about your spouse during the day, think about how to make a good thing even better, and act.” 6 likes
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