What Makes a Marriage Work?

Why is marriage so tough at times? Why do some lifelong relationships click, while others just tick away like a time bomb? How can you prevent a marriage from going bad, or rescue one that is already in trouble? These are some of the questions that triggered John M. Gottman Ph.D to seriously study the art of marriage more than 40 years ago. The study is still going on, and Dr. Gottman is widely recognized as America’s, and maybe the world’s foremost relationship expert. His best-known book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work has sold more than a million copies and is translated to more than 20 languages.

Forty year study

Dr.Gottman has studied three thousand couples over a period of forty years to find as accurate and clinically correct answers to his questions as possible. His findings are far from guesswork. This was done with the eyes and mind of a scientist resulting in the ability to predict a divorce with 91% accuracy after observing a couple’s interaction for as little as 15 minutes.

At first it is tempting to shrug off research results like this as just more in a long line of fancy theories. Plenty of marital and relationship experts have given their thoughts on what really makes marriage last, and on how you can rescue or divorce-proof your own.

Many great people have written good books based on their opinion of how to form a more perfect union. But that’s the key word, opinion. Dr.Gottman’s findings are not just theories or opinions; they are based on hard, scientific data.

What if he is right?

If it is possible to see measurable traits and patterns leading in the wrong direction through the way we interact in the now, it is great news. If a divorce can be predicted with more than 90 % accuracy, it is not something that just happens to you out of the blue. If it can be predicted, it can also be prevented. If you are aware, it is much easier to take appropriate action. The research shows clearly that the things we do now, in everyday life, is what will make or break our relationship in the days to come. I can do things today in my relationship that will guide our marriage in a positive direction.

Unlike so many other approaches to helping couples, Dr. Gottman’s is based on knowing what makes marriages succeed rather than on what makes them fail. He states it very well himself; “We no longer have to guess why some couples stay so happily married. Thanks to years of scientific data and analysis, we really can identify what makes happily married couples different from everybody else.”

Emotionally Intelligent Marriages

What makes marriage work is surprisingly simple. Happily married couples aren’t smarter, richer, or more psychologically better than others. But 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. Rather than creating a climate of disagreement and resistance, they embrace each other’s needs. When addressing a partner’s request, their motto tends to be a helpful “Yes, and…” rather than “Yes, but…” This positive attitude not only allows them to maintain but also increase the sense of romance, play, fun, adventure, and learning together which is at the heart of any long-lasting love affair. They have what Dr.Gottman calls, “an emotionally intelligent marriage”.

In a long-term study of 130 newlywed couples, Dr. John Gottman discovered that men who allow their wives to influence them have happier marriages and are less likely to divorce. Accepting influence is both a mindset and a skill cultivated by paying attention to your spouse every day.

”Love is cultivated during the grind of everyday life. It’s the seemingly meaningless little moments of connection that are the most meaningful of all.” says Dr.Gottman. This is great news for us all; to make sure our own, relationships stay strong and growing and also in helping others to a better marriage

Here is a link to a great review of the book : Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knBJGNisJS0

Training in Norway

Family Ministries Norway offers a unique possibility to be trained as a facilitator for the 7 Principles Marriage Course. We will host a one day seminar October 27. The only official prerequisite for attending is to read the book Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work The Gottman institute in Seattle USA will send their Director of training, Dr.Penner to run the facilitator’s training and the event will be held in a conference centre in the main airport in Norway, Gardermoen. As a part of the fee you will get all the material you need to run the seminar, including the book, a facilitators book and a participants book. PowerPoints are also included in the package. A great lunch will also be provided for all the participants. Timeframe: 10.00 am – 18.00pm Conference fee: approx. 100 Euro.

Please contact Trond Saethren if you are interested in joining us for this event. trondse@ywam.no