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

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  15,363 ratings  ·  1,197 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 January 1st 1999)
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 ·  15,363 ratings  ·  1,197 reviews


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Billie Pritchett
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Adam
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
...more
Mike
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
...more
Dana
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
...more
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
...more
Jared
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
...more
Rachelle
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 ...more
Edward
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
...more
Jacob
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, like that 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 ...more
r.b
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: social-work, 2015
If I could I would give this book 1.5 stars, but I will round up to 2.

I got curious about this book when my supervisor mentioned that she wants to go to one of Gottman's trainings as he is a relationship expert.

I nearly quit reading when I got to the recommendation to tell my partner 'poor baby' when said partner has gotten in trouble for being late to work. I was astounded by this suggestion. I really expected to read a - "just kidding" - somewhere in the text. As a therapist and also
...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
Lena
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
...more
Lindsay
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.)
Mehrsa
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.
Lars
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.
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.
Amy
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
...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
...more
J.D. Knutson
Aug 24, 2016 rated it liked it
I think the takeaway is that Austin and I are incredibly compatible!
PhilorChelsy
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.
Hawley
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 ...more
Karen
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.....?"
...more
Aubrey
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lots of good and helpful insight. I have been wanting to read this since I first read about John Gottman in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink. With 98% accuracy, Gottman can predict whether or not a couple will divorce after watching them interact for just fifteen minutes.
My favorite quote about successful couples: "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
...more
Kate
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.
Ayelet Waldman
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This man is a genius. He can predict divorce with a 93% accuracy rate in FIVE MINUTES.
Frank Calberg
Aug 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
At page 21, I read that at the heart of the 7 principles approach is the fact that a great partnership is based on deep friendship, i.e. mutual respect for and enjoyment of the other's company. Friendship promotes positive feelings, and friendship fuels the flames of romance.


Principle # 1: Acquire knowledge about who your partner is. 8 questions to ask:
- What are the names of your partner's 2 best friends?
- What is the favourite website / app of your partner?
- What stresses / worries your
...more
Amber Lea
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Edit: I just read "Why Marriages Succeed or Fail" by the same author and it's basically the same book but better. I recommend reading that instead because I didn't have any of these criticisms about it.
___________________________

I think there's a lot of good advice here. I don't agree with all of it, and at times this book downright contradicts itself, but it's still one of the better relationship books out there.

I think the thing that I appreciate the most is that the author doesn't treat any
...more
Sumit
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I had mixed feelings about this book. I had expected great things, given all of the glowing reviews of Gottman's work I've heard from various friends over the years. While there were some pearls of wisdom in this book and some valuable perspective (more on this later), the good aspects were often overshadowed by its flaws, from Gottman's endless self-aggrandizement to the rampant use of sexist generalizations throughout the text.

My most significant complaint, though, is about how he conflates
...more
Maria Lasprilla
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: people-are-hard
This is the second book on marriages I read, and this time I read it while my relationship is strong. I recommend to look into ways of making our relationships stronger even when they seem right. This can help us identify and prevent some issues in the future.

As for the specifics, the book was very practical, with a lot of examples from real couples. I really liked that the fundamental premise is that for any marriage to be strong the foundation has to be in place, and that foundation is pretty
...more
Andrea Norton
Before 2016, I would never be caught reading a self-help book, let alone one on relationships. However, I decided to make 2016 about reading things I normally wouldn't read, things out of my comfort zone, and the best sellers in those areas.

Note: I do not read marriage books for help or advice. Because of that, I have a very different way of looking at the Seven Principles than the usual reader would. I am reading marriage books because they truly are out of my comfort zone.

With nonfiction, I
...more
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619 followers
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.
“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.” 13 likes
“Friendship fuels the flames of romance because it offers the best protection against feeling adversarial toward your spouse.” 12 likes
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