The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

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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

Just as Masters and Johnson were pioneers in the study of human sexuality, so Dr. John Gottman has revolutionized the study of marriage. As a professor of psychology at the University of Washington and the founder and director of the Seattle Marital and Family Institute, he has studied the habits of married couples in unprecedented detail over the course of many years. His findings, and his heavily attended workshops, have already turned around thousands of faltering marriages.

This book is the culmination of his life's work: the seven principles that guide couples on the path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship. Straightforward in their approach, yet profound in their effect, these principles teach partners new and startling strategies for making their marriage work. Gottman helps couples focus on each other, on paying attention to the small day-to-day moments that, strung together, make up the heart and soul of any relationship. Being thoughtful about ordinary matters provides spouses with a solid foundation for resolving conflict when it does occur and finding strategies for living with those issues that cannot be resolved.

Packed with questionnaires and exercises whose effectiveness has been proven in Dr. Gottman's workshops, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is the definitive guide for anyone who wants their relationship to attain its highest potential.

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is the result of Dr. John Gottman's many years of closely observing thousands of marriages. This kind of longitudinal research has never been done before. Based on his findings, he has culled seven principles essential to the success of any marriage.
Maintain a love map.
Foster fondness and admiration.
Turn toward instead of away.
Accept influence.
Solve solvable conflicts.
Cope with conflicts you can't resolve.
Create shared meaning.

Dr. Gottman's unique questionnaires and exercises will guide couples on the road to revitalizing their marriage, or making a strong one even better.

Customer Reviews:

  • Very helpful
    This book is very insightful. It's great for a husband and wife to read together or separately. It is very easy to read and understand. My husband and I learned a lot about each other and ourselves by reading it....more info
  • Great and different view
    This book provides a different take on what makes marriages work. With scientific study centralized on what makes marriages stay together and what makes them truly separate, Grottman analyzes marriage as an institution based on such science rather then conventional marriage therapy wisdom....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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Research Rules
    This book is based on years of research and his findings support what other marriage and family therapists have found about men, women, and relationships. It's fascinating and insightful...and I'll take research-backed advice over the random opinion of someone professing to be an expert anyday of the week. I learned a lot. BTW, the book is required reading in my son's college health class this semester so clearly I am not the only person who thinks this guy knows of what he speaks!...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
  • 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
  • Consider Gottman's "The Mathematics of Marriage" if you want a more serious study
    As most other reviewers here will agree, this is an excellent book.

    However, even some people that see a lot of value in the ideas in this book find the writing a little too flashy and self-impressed. But that shouldn't detract from what it has to say about marriage.

    This book is co-written with Nan Silver, a contributing editor for Parent magazine, and is set up to resemble and read like a pop-psychology bestseller. But don't let the trappings fool you- this book isn't the final word on Gottman's theories. It's just an "accesible" version of ideas that have a lot of merit and backing.

    If you're sceptical about the scientific merit of Gottman's work, I recommend you check out his more serious volume on the subject, The Mathematics of Marriage, published by MIT. You can buy it on here, or even read some of it for free on Google Books. It's long, mathematical and not as enjoyable to read from cover-to-cover, but if you want hard numbers and facts on the subject it's a great resource....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
  • Excellent Resource
    This book is a very valuable resource to any one teaching marriage relations or involved in marriage counseling. One of the best books I've read during 20 years in the field....more info
  • Will force my son to read, before he ties the knot.
    If someone asked me, "What single book would you recommend to a newly married couple?" My answer would be this title by John M. Gottman and Nan Silver.

    Hands down, it is the most comprehensive, realistic, battle-proven, lab-tested book on the subject of marriage that I have ever read. And I have read a lot of books on the subject. No, I am not a marriage counselor or therapist, but a humble man who desperately wants a marriage that works.

    Any two people can have a marriage that lasts. What good, however, is a lasting marriage if the two people involved are unhappy? What good is a lasting marriage when you feel uneasy around your spouse, or even emotionally threatened? This book will not only create an environment conducive to a lasting partnership, but may even help you and your spouse become friends again.

    I sometimes think back to my marriage (which failed not long ago), and wonder if things would have proceeded differently if we could have read this book together.
    ...more info
  • A Practical Guide
    This is a required book for our program and I found it very easy to read and supported my own observations that couples who have the best relationship know the most about each other and keep current with how their partner is doing at all times. This "love map" is very important and why be in relationship if you don't know your partner this well and care about your partner this much. Good book, good read. ...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
  • 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
  • The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work
    The author presents his information as though he has discovered something new, which he hasn't. His presention is very self satisified and self involved with him presenting the information as though it all the research was done by only him with a little help from others. His presention actually turned me off it was so self serving and egotistical. The 7 principles are presented by chapter (after he gives several chapters of his self congratulations) and involve multiple excercies that you are supposed to do together....which are very basic and might be okay if someone is just starting a relationship but not an established one. Further the excercises should be done together, which doesn't work if the parties aren't getting along and/or barely speaking and have already set habits and beliefs in regard to how they see the relationship. The book is good if you are at your first disagreement or just stating a relationship otherwise it is a lot of work that really doesn't do anything except avoid the actual issue....more info
  • The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work:
    This book is for couples who truly want to save their marriage. It can be done, even after years of problems! You must work together using this method. Helps you understand yourself and your partner so you each can support each other! ...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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • "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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Gottman!
    Needed the book for a graduate level course, can't say enough great things about it!...more info
  • Top notch!
    A friend of mine bought me this book originally and I then promptly bought copies for everyone I know! I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is based on research so is very objective, is easy to read (albeit a little self congratulatory to start with but this does not detract for me) and offers practical advice as well as short quizzes so that are helpful in so far as offering ways to move forward.

    I cannot think of any married or indeed single person for whom this book would not be helpful!...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
  • You Can Learn a Lot From This
    Many people could benefit from this. I have recommended the beginning exercises to two couples and they have found them helpful. In marital therapy ANY possibility of improvement is a Godsend. The following could also benefit from this book: 1. Anyone who is in an intimate relationship and would like to experience some enrichment. 2. Anyone who wishes to know more about healthy relationships. 3. Anyone who has difficulty in relationships and would like to learn from their experiences.

    The big caveat here is motivation and goodwill. If you're in a situation in which there is no desire to work on the relationship other than in the therapy hour, and there is no willingness to see the good in the other, chances of improvement are going to be very slim no matter what you do. By the way, I would also recommend Cloud and Townsend's book: Boundaries....more info
  • The relationship question.
    I really enjoyed this book. It gave me a lot of insight and calmed my fears about relationships over 45....more info
  • Genius in regards to relationships!
    Gottman is a Genius when it comes to male/female relationships. I would suggest that anyone even thinking about getting married read this with their significant other first! ...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
  • 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
  • Interesting book, but...
    This book is definitely interesting and the author obviously made a good research, but those exercises after each chapter are a little tricky when it comes to doing them with your partner. If you don't have a good communication between each other then it can be challenging and actually make you fight while doing exercises. So if you are reading this book to improve your marriage that's in trouble already, you might want to read the book by yourself, not involving your partner and involve him only in the end (do all the exercises) if you think you are ready. The author also warns you before the first exercise to answer questions straight and not comment on any of them, for example: Your husband asks you a question "what do you think excites me?" , answer directly what do you think excites him, don't say "Well, we don't have any sex so how should I know" or something like that. It's a recommended book....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


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