The Seven Principles that
Make a Relationship Work
Mary M Buxton LCSW, Inc.
AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Sex therapy and relationship therapy go hand in hand. The divorce statistics range anywhere from 50 - 60% in America. Marital researcher, John Gottman,
PhD, has come up with seven principles that can help your marriage thrive.
Dr. Gottman has researched long-term marriages that work for over 20 years. His research methods have been both unique and thorough as
he collected data from the marital subjects by interviews and videotaped daily interaction. His team of researchers also measured heart rate, blood flow, sweat output, blood pressure, and immune
function moment by moment. As a result Dr. Gottman states that he is able to predict divorce with 91% accuracy. The prediction is largely based on the
presence of what he calls the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the couple interactions. They are:
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- Criticism - Attacking the person instead of stating how you feel about the troublesome behavior.
- Defensiveness - High tension and lack of listening when discussing.
- Contempt - Lack of respect and sarcasm in response to or about your partner.
- Stonewalling - Emotional shutdown and unresponsiveness in response to attempts to communicate, especially about areas of conflict.
Dr. Gottman found two other important hallmarks of a long lasting healthy marriage.
- 5 positives to 1 negative
- The presence of marital conflict that gets resolved.
The seven principles are outlined below and can be read about in more detail in Dr. Gottman’s book, The Seven Principles That Make Marriage Work.
- Enhance your love map
- Develop a sense of the other’s joys, likes, dislikes, fears and stresses
- Plenty of cognitive room for marriage
- Better prepared to cope with the stressful events and conflict
- Nurture your fondness and admiration
- Reminding yourself of your spouses positive qualities
- Antidotes for contempt
- Prevents the four horsemen
- Turn toward each other instead of away
- Correct distorted notions of what fuels romance
- Put effort into to staying connected
- Respond to bids for partner’s attention, affection, humor or support.
- Let Your Partner Influence You
- Yield to win
- Search for common ground instead of insisting on your way
- Share power
- Solve Solvable Problems
- Soften your start up
- Make repair attempts
- Soothe self and other
- Be tolerant of faults
- Overcoming Gridlock
- The goal in ending gridlock is not to solve the problem but rather to move from gridlock to dialogue about deep dreams.
- Create shared meaning
In summary, a couple has to actively cultivate an atmosphere of positivism and support while using conflict resolution and repair attempts to keep resentment out of the relationship.
Where to Get Help
- Many people often need the boost of professional help to get the many aspects of their concern sorted through and resolved.
- I offer individual and couple counseling services with a specialization in sex and couple therapy.
- For referrals to a sex & marital therapist in your area, contact www.aasect.org
Adapted from The Seven Principles That Make Marriage Work. John Gottman, PH.D. and Nan Silver, Three Rivers Press, 2000.