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

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According to most relationship books, the key to a solid marriage is communication, communication, communication. Phooey, says John Gottman, Ph.D., author of the much-lauded Why Marriages Succeed or Fail. There's much more to a solid, "emotionally intelligent" marriage than sharing every feeling and thought, he points out--though most couples therapists ineffectively (and expensively) harp on these concepts.

Gottman, the director of the Gottman Institute, has found through studying hundreds of couples in his "love lab" that it only takes five minutes for him to predict--with 91 percent accuracy--which couples will eventually divorce. He shares the four not-so-obvious signs of a troubled relationship that he looks for, using sometimes amusing passages from his sessions with married couples. (One standout is Rory, the pediatrician who didn't know the name of the family dog because he spent so much time at work.)

Gottman debunks many myths about divorce (primary among them that affairs are at the root of most splits). He also reveals surprising facts about couples who stay together. They do engage in screaming matches. And they certainly don't resolve every problem. "Take Allan and Betty," he writes. "When Allan gets annoyed at Betty, he turns on ESPN. When Betty is upset with him, she heads for the mall. Then they regroup and go on as if nothing's happened. Never in forty-five years of marriage have they sat down to have a 'dialogue' about their relationship." While this may sound like a couple in trouble, Gottman found that they pass the love-lab tests and say honestly that "they are both very satisfied with their relationship and they love each other deeply."

Through a series of in-depth quizzes, checklists, and exercises, similar to the ones he uses in his workshops, Gottman provides the framework for coping with differences and strengthening your marriage. His profiles of troubled couples rescued from the brink of divorce (including that of Rory, the out-of-touch doctor) and those of still-happy couples who reinvigorate their relationships are equally enlightening. --Erica Jorgensen

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 for Making Marriage Work is the definitive guide for anyone who wants their relationship to attain its highest potential.

Customer Reviews:

  • a book with practical substance
    This book came recommended from a friend who is also a licensed family counselor. My husband and I have referenced it many times and given it away as gifts. It is easy and fun to read and incredibly useful. We are no where near a "perfect couple" but with the tools in this book I can honestly say that we are closer and more in love than the day we married....more info
  • open secrets for those willing to open
    By opening this book (and this review!) you are already willing to learn, think, and remodel. These acts mean that you probably respect others, and deserve the same. These are the essence of Gottman's principles - respect and love, golden rule type of stuff. He is big on sense and provides a useful roadmap. However, if one partner is NOT reading the book, there is a problem...more info
  • Good read
    This is a good book with good info and good points. Has exercises too that are helpful. The one thing my husband and I did not like was the author's ego. Once you get through his ego and get to the good stuff it's a good book....more info
  • The best resource for those who aren't professional marriage counselors
    As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist I can tell you that this book is the single best resource you can find on saving, building, or strengthening a marriage. This is the findings of his research distilled down to something ordinary people can read quickly and apply in their own lives. See my more extensive review at [...] but I believe this book could help all couples, and everyone should read it before they are unhappy with their relationships....more info
  • Very helpful.
    My new husband and I were going through a rough patch and arguing too much, so we got this book and read it together. We got so much out of it, and things improved a LOT within just a week. There are worksheets and quizzes you can do, and lots to think about. But even if you just read the first couple chapters, you'll get a lot out of it. I very highly recommend this book to anyone in a relationship that isn't as loving and kind as they'd like it to be....more info
  • Works!
    My husband and I just weren't getting along. We met 20+ years ago and at that time we got along handsomely. But along the way, something went awry. We purchased two books recently and although we have not finished reading, it has already impacted our relationship immensely.

    The book is a simple comprehensive guide to making it work. And if you're serious about the committment you've made to your spouse, implementing the techniques is effective and quite easy. In fact, it's even fun. My husband and i laugh again... together. Thank you John Gottman. Prior to reading the book, our "repair attempt" were unsuccessful. Now, we are back on track and i believe without this book, our relationship was doomed. ...more info
  • Excellent, fun exercises
    My wife and I both found the research fascinating, and the conversation topics and exercises to be entertaining. I discovered she knew more about me than I knew about her!...more info
  • Practical and sensible dos and don'ts for marriage building.
    Dr. Gottman has great insight into how to understand your mate and how to help your mate understand you as well. His approach is quite different from most marriage manuals. The seven principals are easy to understand and to put into practice. ...more info
  • The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Gu
    This is a great book! I have read many relationship books and this is clearly the best. It is so easy to read and offers a lot of practical guidance. There are step by step exercises for you and your partner to work on together. Rebuilding and re-aquainting with each other. I found it to be hopeful and reassuring. It has helped me immensely in my relationship. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for help in your relationship....more info
  • Buy the book, not the Kindle version
    This is an excellent book full of interesting information and useful exercises. If you or your counseling clients want to make marriage work, this could really help. I bought the Kindle version, though, and now I have no access to the exercises.

    I borrowed the book from the library and made some copies of the exercises. There are so many good ones, this turned out to be a lot of time and money spent that I wouldn't have if only I had bought the book in the first place.

    So, my message here is buy this BOOK! Work the exercises with your partner. Pass it along to someone else, too. Buy something else to read on Kindle....more info
  • A superior self help book for troubled marriages!
    This guide provides activities for motivated couples to do together that will strengthen a good marriage and could save one headed for divorce. Can't get your partner to participate? Read it anyway for more insight into your relationship with a spouse or partner....more info
  • Gottman!
    Needed the book for a graduate level course, can't say enough great things about it!...more info
  • Excellent help for any relationship
    I finally admitted that we needed help in our relationship, I bought this book with a little reservation.... I'm sorry I waited so long. If you practice what's in this book, I'm sure that you can make it. Everything can be related to in an easy understandable manner. If your willing, this book will definately help! Another book that I also highly recommend is Become a Total Man Magnet: Make Every Man Fall in Love with You Instantly - Make Him Chase You Down Desperately and Beg for Attention Great books that are worth reading!
    ...more info
  • Your marriage doesn't have to be rocky to get value from this book.
    This is NOT a self help book. I can tell you that honestly because I don't read self help books. Self help books are generalist pseudo-science made up by so-called motivational gurus like Tony Robbins, Rhonda Byrne (The Secret) and Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup guy). The aforementioned books are mental pablum written by corrupt individuals whose goal is to separate you from your money. They are not experts. Their only accomplishment is to come up with a manipulative technique to sell a new version of snake oil.

    If you want to learn more on this subject, read SHAM by Steve Salerno. It isn't a perfect book because he falls down a bit in the proof area, and some of his conclusions are outlandish, but he does give you a lot to think about regarding the self help movement.

    John Gottman's book is an educational reference. If you want to be a physicist, you read books by experts in the field of physics. If you want to be a good spouse, you read books on marriage by experts in the field of marriage. It's not self help; it's education.

    Make sure you pick your "experts" carefully. John Gray (Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus) is NOT an expert. He got is "PhD" from a diploma mill. The man has no accredited higher education at all. His book is pure, made up, stereotypical garbage. He came up with a catchy title, went on Oprah, and made millions because there are a lot of gullible people out there. Don't be one of them.

    Gottman, however, really is an expert. He is one of the best in his field and is recognized as such by his peers. His credentials are legitimate and he wrote a very good book. My marriage was good before I read it. My wife brought it home because, as a family doctor, she often talks to her patients about their relationships and this was part of her overall education. I like improving myself, so I read it too and it helped. My marriage wasn't in need of saving, but fine tuning is always a good idea, so I used the techniques and they work. It helped evolve my marriage from good to great.

    I can see how it would help save marriages that were really on the rocks, although I don't have the first hand experience in this regard. What Gottman has to say really resonates about things that you should and should not do in a marriage. On that note, I think people give up on relationships too easily. They become too self absorbed, worry about their own needs and forget the joy to be had in being dedicated to making someone they love happy. Not all marriages can be fixed, but most can.

    It doesn't take much to motivate me to stay married, but the one thing that terrifies me more than anything about getting divorced is the thought of some other guy being a stepfather to my children. I am very protective of my kids, and no man will EVER take my place as their father as long as I'm alive. Think about that before you sleep with your secretary.

    I have one criticism of Gottman. He's an expert, and he knows it. His book comes across as arrogant, and sometimes the material is dry. Forgive me, but I like to be entertained a little. I accept that you are an expert or I wouldn't be reading your book, so you don't have to keep reminding me. The information is great, but it isn't exactly a page turner. Perhaps he should have done different male and female versions with the same content, but written in different styles. A few metaphorical car chases and explosions couldn't have hurt.
    ...more info
  • Awesome and amazing!!
    I am half way through this book and I cannot believe how it has changed my marriage and my outlook on life in general. The principals in this book not only help with marriage problems, but with any problem you may encounter with another person. I thought my marriage was ruined, after reading just the first two chapters, I realized I was totally wrong. As long as you are friends, your marriage is not doomed...there are so many exercises in this book that help you strengthen the bond between you and your husband/wife, some of them are so simple I even said to myself "Duh, why didn't I think of that?" Concentrate on the positives in your marriage and realize that everyone disagrees, we are not all the this book, whether you have a great relationship or not, in fact give it to newlyweds, this book is amazing and a definite marriage saver! I ordered the book and DVD, could not wait for the book, so also ordered the can also get it off of John Goddard's website, the book and DVD for $33, it got here in about 4 days, well worth the price, in fact underpriced in my opinion!!...more info
  • This book saved our marriage!
    Seriously, the title above says it all. But for a bit more detail, we had a rocky first 5 years of marriage. We did counseling almost every year and still had a really hard time. Forget about "honeymoon period"--we didn't have one, even with a honeymoon! Anyway, my husband refused to read the book, but it was enough just for me to read it and realize we were headed down the road to divorce, which convinced me to change some of the things I needed to change (which is, of course, all you can do). Every now and then he'd allow me to share with him some of the key points from a chapter, which maybe helped him to change some things too, but I think the biggest influence was him seeing me breaking some of the patterns I had previously gotten into. We're Christians and I know some think you should only read Christian marriage books, but I disagree. All truth is God's truth and this book is a miracle sent from God, regardless of what you believe!!...more info
  • Great book!
    I am not married nor engaged, but possibly could be soon. I ordered this book knowing Gottman's reputation. I figured that I might as well begin learning good patterns for marriage as opposed to having to change bad habits later. I really have enjoyed this book and have found the information very helpful and practical....more info
  • Seven Principles.
    This is an excellent book if you want to do actual work on a relationship. The exercises are very revealing, and you begin to see how things could change if you made an effort. I recommend this book to anyone who is trying to resuscitate a relationship, rather than trying to end one....more info
  • This guy is worth listening to
    Gottman has successfully predicted divorce 15 years ahead quite accurately (91% success), when all kind of "experts" were no better than the flip of a coin.

    So we know that he knows what he is talking about. We should listen to him.

    Here he outlines his understanding of the dynamics of marriage, and what makes them work or dissolve.

    Read carefully. It is not just an advice book. The trick is to udnerstand the dynamics of marriage and conflict between couples.

    According to Gottman, his relationship seminars were also extremely successful.

    Another great book of Gottman is The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships

    Writing style is good and very readable. If I got slowed down is because tehre are such interesting insights that I got to stop and think!...more info
  • Good resource for any couple
    I am a therapist and was seeking books to offer to clients dealing with marital issues and bought this work to review myself. I found it easy to read with sound research based advice. I will recommend this book to future clients....more info
  • Two thumbs up
    I think that this is a book that everybody in a relationship needs to read. It opened my eyes to several different aspects of my life and relationships. This book is truly life changing and I would recommend it to everyone....more info
  • This book doesn't have a 5 star rating for nothing!
    I'm sure others can relate when I say that I really don't know ANY couples who are "happily" married - not even my parents (married 38 years)well, MAYBE one of my brothers - the other brother is divorced. I've even had a very long term engagement that failed. Not only have all of my romantic relationships failed, but they have all failed on bad terms. I spent alot of time being angry at relationships and had even given up on them because I didn't believe that "normal" courtships would ever exist for me.

    Recently, I decided to take the bulls by the horn and face my demons because I have started a new relationship and I want it to work this time (without the nagging inside feelings). Once I looked my heart in the face (lol), I realized that I just didn't know how to be in a healthy relationship because healthy relationships are not what I was raised around and it's not what I encounter on a day to day basis with others and it is DEFINITELY not what is depicted on television - so this is what I did.

    I turned off the TV, stopped paying so much attention to negative relationship images, and I started researching with this idea in mind - "I want a healthy relationship. I want to break the cycle - Just show me how". God knew that I was ready, so I was lead to this book. I ordered the book from AMAZON and all I can say is WOW! This book really hits the nail on the head. I could TOTALLY relate to all the signs and symptoms talked about; especially in Chapter 2. It's like years of pent up apprehension about what has gone on in my parents' & grandparents' relationship and mine just melted away. I feel that I hold the solution to my problems literally in the palm of my hand. I feel as if now I have a fighting chance to have the long lasting loving relationship that I've always wanted, but had pretty much given up on. I can now look back at my failed relationships and forgive myself and my partners for whatever happened because now I know better.

    I've also read Why Men Love Bitches and Why Men Marry Bitches. I highly recommend these 2 books as well because they have helped my regain my dignity as a woman. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work has restored my confidence in romance. With God, confidence, dignity, and the skills needed to make a relationship work - I just can't lose.

    Why Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl-A Woman's Guide to Holding Her Own in a Relationship
    Why Men Marry Bitches: A Woman's Guide to Winning Her Man's Heart...more info
  • The Go-To Mom Highly Praises Gottman's Work
    What a great marriage refresher. I enjoy going to dinner with my husband and taking the quizzes. Gottman's seven principles are a true wake-up call to stop taking your marriage for granted. This is a great book for couples who are dating and considering marriage.

    Kimberley Clayton Blaine, MA, MFT
    Author, Mommy Confidence: 8 Easy Steps to Reclaiming Balance, Motivation, and Your Inner Diva...more info
  • Enjoyable read
    I really enjoyed reading this book and applying what was written to my own personal life. I would recommend this book to a friend....more info
  • A Fantastic Book...
    For the last year I have been traveling to Seattle to train for certification with Jon and Julie Gottman and their staff at The Gottman Institute, and this book is a great introduction to their work and the invaluable research they have done with couples for more than thirty years now. I wish this book and their work were required reading for life. I wish I had known of their work earlier in my life both personally and professionally. This is a book to come back to time and time again. To me it is not only useful for married couples but has such wise tools to learn about for all our relationships. I've read most of his other books and highly recommend them as well, including those on children. If you like the book they also have amazing workshops in Seattle for couples. My parents just went to one for their 45th wedding anniversary and said they still learned a great deal from them!...more info
  • non-traditional marriage advice
    this is not your typical, "oh, what matters in a good marriage is communication, communication, communication" kind of book. its starting point is the quite radical thesis that 69% of the problems that a couple is having are irresolvable--that doesn't mean you are destined to get a divorce! there are things you can do to work on your relationship, if you want to. i like the work sheets and exercises.

    one point i didn't like is that the "let your partner influence you" part is dedicated to a heterosexual relationship. one thing i didn't appreciate as much about this book--even though i am in a heterosexual relationship-- is that all the advice kind of assumes a heteronormative standpoint, while explaining those assumptions from a scientific viewpoint. nevertheless, if the book is reworked as a counceling for any kind of couple, it would certainly improve....more info
  • Good purchase-Eager the read
    Good purchase. It arrived in the condition described. Eager to start reading because I heard good comments about the book....more info
  • excellent help for building good relationship from the ground up
    Love this book, it is much better than I expected and exactly what my fiance and I needed to help us build good foundation for our relationship and to get to know each other better and better, It is a book we will reuse time and time again, going through the exercises deeper and deeper each time. Thank you for such a helpful tool. ...more info
  • great book
    Reasearch in this book could not be more true. If you both want self help-- here it is. There is not much in this book that can be accomplished alone, it is certainly a book where both parties want to better the relationship....more info
    A valuable, well-written book. I recommend it to the couple's that I counsel and it's been very helpful---in fact, since I started recommending it, there's no doubt that this book was instrumental in saving at least two marriages that were deeply troubled. I intend to keep recommending it. Pamela D. Blair, Author The Next Fifty Years: A Guide for Women at Mid-Life And Beyond...more info
  • Great for ANY relationship
    This is a wonderful book about how to make the best of your relationship better; to love, understand and accept, and how to effectively and lovingly argue. I am not married but found tremendous benefits from this book in my relationship with my boyfriend. Highly recommended! ...more info
  • practical advice on marriage
    This is not a complicated work of advice. All Dr. Gottman does is tell you that for marriage to work well, spouses must be friends and sets out practical exercises to help people accomplish what they want to do. ...more info
  • My therapist recommended it
    I am so grateful for this book. I've been married almost 22 years and have read tons of self-help books on marriage. Coming from an alcoholic family, I went into marriage with lots of hope and determination, but few skills. I've had friends along the way suggest I divorce my husband, but I never wanted to do that since my husband comes from a divorced family. His parents divorce deeply affected him and I know he doesn't want our children to suffer the same legacy. I am only on page 29 in the book! Thank God I have a therapist to help me understand the concepts and apply them to my marriage. I've always projected all the blame for our marital problems on my husband; my therapist knew better, of course. These principles are giving me HOPE that I can have a good marriage and then be able to pass these skills along to our young children....more info
  • Worth your time
    A great aide for those who don't wish to seek the "counseling" route. What a bonus to find this book, its insight and information all for the price of a paperback!

    Revealing and encouraging for those of us who know we sincerely love our spouses and are will to do the work make our marriages work. Thanks for letting us know the warning signs and ways to change our behavior in order to to achieve this! Thank you, thank you, thank you!...more info
  • Amazing book...A great buy for anyone.
    "Seven Principles" really helped me and my husband Joe get through a very rough time in our marraige last year. Joe and I had gone through our ups and downs before, but we hit a really rough spot. We went to our friends, and they all told us different things. None of them gave the same ideas (principles, haha) as this book did. I had heard of Nan Silver before, having read her book "Rules for Parents." It was definitely THE best parenting book I have ever read. Anyway, back to the point, Joe and I weren't able to quite grasp our friends' advice to help us get through our rough patch, but Nan Silver's excellent writing skills really helped us through this more than any of what this book actually said.
    P.S. No, seriously, buy this book i wanna go to college....more info
  • the 7 Principles for successful marriage
    It's an excellent book that helps relationships to leanr more about each other, manage their differences and accept each other, have fun together and have the tools to manage challenges when married! It's great even better before marriage!...more info
  • "Far Less Informative Than Expected".
    I was not impressed by this book at all. I have gotten better advice on how to make a marriage work from my friends who are married and other publications.

    This book was not worth the money. It should have been half the amount I paid....more info
  • Awesome! Awesome!
    This book gives realistic advice and sheds light on some major issues that come up in marriage. My husband and I loved it....more info
  • Great user friendly book
    Very helpful to folks for increasing awareness of their own helpful and non-helpful behaviors in relationship. If you can't find the time to read this material, consider getting a related DVD that covers all the high lights.Making Marriage Work...more info
  • Excellent Book
    This is an excellent book - We're only partway into it and have already gotten some great insights into the state of our marriage and how we can improve it. I highly recommend it....more info
  • Wonderful secular book on marriage
    I can't really give any marriage book that's secular in foundation five stars; talking about marriage absent of God is like talking about construction absent of steel or mortar. That said, this is a good book, especially if you're comfortable throwing a bit out here and there. The nicest thing is that it challenges the (incorrect) idea that the goal and process toward good marriage is simply removing fighting and conflict. That's a myth, and the science and experience of Gottman and Silver in this book support that.

    It's also full of lots of exercises. Some are a bit cheesy, and others are probably more than the "typical" couple will do. But several are incredibly practical, and won't take much time. I folded down about 8 pages to refer back to, and that's a good thing. Recommended for mature Christians who know a bit about marriage; other than that, though, there are a number of better books with a more accurate and correct Biblical foundation that would be better starting points....more info
  • Best Marriage Strengthener
    Great reviews already tout the virtues and power of this book. It made my already good marriage so much better.

    This is no silly, self-help guru-written piece of garbage. It's backed up with facts and scientific evidence that support a clear set of principles that can be used to make any marriage better than it is already.

    My wife and I got the most of this by reading this together, taking turns reading a page apiece, and identifying what we did that chipped away at the fulfillment and joy we had together. Although reading the book cover to cover is the best way to get everything this book has to offer, its fun to simply open the book at any place and dive into a principal or set of examples - perfect for a short read.

    It's a fabulous book that should be read periodically to refresh yourself on any bad habits that have crept back into your life. And it's a great gift I've given many times over to repeated accolades.

    Get it. Read it. Get Happier....more info
  • Awesome Book!! A definite "Must Get!" 2 Thumbs Up!!
    My Husband and I are reading this amazing book. It is enlightening, eye opening and it is a fabulous book for any relationship, not just marriage! A definite must get!...more info
  • totally new stuff about marriage
    I picked this book to save my relationship with my wife. As I read each page word by word, I was shocked to know something about myself; that I understood very little about my partner and conflict itself. The Love Lab guru, Dr. Gottman, explains generously that problems are perpetual and others are solvable. Each kind must be treated differently in accordance with the 7 principles. Without him, I don't know what I would do. I'm just happy I've read it....more info
  • Superb Text
    Superb book. I am newly separated and fear the worst for my marraige as my wife has already moved to another country and had at least an emotional affair. Through reading it I realise I did everything that it tells you not to do - so Gottman would have surely predicted the result. I wish that I had gotten my hands on this a year ago. ...more info
  • MUST READ even for the SINGLE!!
    Among many things this book provides specifics on communication styles. Not only is it important for couples to understand how they are communicating and healthy ways to do so, but it is important for SINGLE individuals to know this, develop their own skills, and to choose a partner wisely. A must read for ALL and should be included in High School reading requirements before spending countless years in bad relationships....more info
  • mostly 5 stars for a reason
    i bought this book for my parents as well as for myself. and its a great read, very intelligent and informative and practical (and we tend to be a bit skeptical). i think anyone can benefit from this, or at least walk away with something new....more info


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