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

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  19,259 ratings  ·  1,477 reviews
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, ...more
Paperback, 271 pages
Published May 16th 2000 by Harmony (first published 1999)
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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
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
May 06, 2015 rated it did not like it
I'm confused by John Gottman. His work is mentioned respectfully by sociologists and other therapists: he went into his Love Lab and figured out what makes relationships fall apart, it's kind of revolutionary. And then the big insight is that if people get really worked up about mundane disagreements to the point that they're making shitty personal attacks on their partner or shutting down and not engaging in the discussion, the marriage is probably not going to work. It's less a primer on how t ...more
Krishna Chaitanya
Most of the material and practical advice provided in this book made me very uncomfortable to follow and put it into practice, I guess the old saying is correct indeed, you need to be uncomfortable at times to make your lives better.

This book offers seven principles to cope with your marriage and improve it for betterment. Each principle has a questionnaire to evaluate where your relationship stand in terms of a positive aspect which is essential for a good marital relationship and it also inclu
Mar 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
John Brown
Jan 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 04, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Mar 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Frank Calberg
Aug 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Takeaways from reading the book:

Principle # 1: Find out who your partner is.
Examples of questions to ask:
1. What is your favorite app? Why?
2. What stresses you the most at the moment? Why?
3. What is the best way for you to relax? Why?
4. How are your feelings about your job? Why?
5. What would the design of your perfect home be? Why?
6. Who are your partner's 2 best friends? Why?

Principle # 2: Express admiration for your partner.
- Page 74 and 283: Say thank you to your partner.
- Page 82: Express
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
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Hands down the best most practical marriage advice book I've ever read. I will be reading it again and giving it away. I've read Gottman's work before, but this book is essential to anyone whose marriage isn't perfect. ...more
Sep 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.) ...more
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I haven't read a lot of marital counselling books, yet I feel good about claiming that this one is the best one out there. This has been one of the most enlightening and thought-provoking books I've ever read. The best part is: It's simple and practical. He doesn't dwell on complext theories of romantic love and its components--he focuses on what's been shown to make marriages work. ...more
Shady Elyaski
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Please read that book if you are in a relationship! If you really think you are really good at it, you are not! Your relationship might die if you don't work on it. So please make yourself a favor and learn how you can get better. ...more
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is not just a book for professionals, its for anyone who wants to make their marriage stronger. Its easy to use, and easy to buy into. John and Julie Gottman have spent over 40 years researching, writing about, and working with couples, and they are the hallmark of what they do - creating marriages that last and sustain. I am teaching the Gottman Method tomorrow, and I enjoyed this read and learned a lot. But this is one of those books a person grows with, just because.

This is also my June
Jul 22, 2020 rated it liked it
This book reads like intro to therapy concepts for (perhaps ideally boomer) heterosexual couples. The activities seem to be the best and most useful aspect, while I found many of the rationalizations for why (cisgender, heterosexual) men and women behave the way they do to be reductionist, regressive and old-school (for example, claiming the reason girls play family-centered games and have pretend weddings as kids is due to biology... really?). I enjoyed listening to add perspective to relations ...more
Sally Boyer
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Try reading this book single, and then reading it again with your partner once you're coupled and you'll likely get good results.

The book is an even balance of theory and practice exercises. For this review, I'm going to focus on the theory as I haven't had the opportunity to try the exercises out with a partner.

Here are some of my takeaways:

1. Having a baby is hard on a relationship: "about 67% of couples experience a large drop in marital satisfaction in the three years after the birth of the
Jenny Garone
Jan 10, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mom-stuff
I started out loving this, despite the fact that Gottman's ego is ginormous. When he suggests couples bond by gossiping about other people, it goes downhill fast. I only got about half way through CD 3 before calling it quits. (on his book, not my marriage) ...more
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Dec 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
No the most positive outlook on marriage. Made it seem like men are lazy and women are shrews. Did not get much out of this one. It is hard to apply stereotypes to my relationship.
Jessica Knutson
Aug 24, 2016 rated it liked it
I think the takeaway is that Austin and I are incredibly compatible!
Jan 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: chelsys-readings
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alex Memus
Feb 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let’s contextualize this book a little bit. There are two opposite popular approaches to marriage:
* Esther Perel’s one. In her book Mating in Captivity she argues that “our cultural penchant for equality, togetherness, and absolute candor is antithetical to erotic desire for both men and women.”
* John Gottman’s one. He argues that the closer and more open you are with your partner, the better you attune to them, the better is you marriage and sex.

Today we’re going to talk about Gottman’s approac
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My husband and I read this together, on weekend mornings. We found it very practical, with lots of useful exercises and practices. Sound concepts too and a no-nonsense approach, that we appreciated.

The chapters were a bit long, so we split some in manageable chunks. Some exercizes are long too, but he recommends doing them over time, and perhaps discuss them on dates - which is what we did.

This will now be the book I will ALWAYS recommend to married couples, that want to nurture their relation
Hana Bilqisthi
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.....?"
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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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“Once you understand this, you will be ready to accept one of the most surprising truths about marriage: Most marital arguments cannot be resolved. Couples spend year after year trying to change each other’s mind—but it can’t be done. This is because most of their disagreements are rooted in fundamental differences of lifestyle, personality, or values. By fighting over these differences, all they succeed in doing is wasting their time and harming their marriage.” 18 likes
“Friendship fuels the flames of romance because it offers the best protection against feeling adversarial toward your spouse.” 15 likes
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