Happy and unhappy couples have something in common, they both experience conflict. What do you do when you feel like your relationship is on the rocks? Sometimes we ask for advice from someone we trust, we bottle it up, or we seek satisfaction elsewhere. All of which can be harmful to the relationship.
The Seven Principles of Making a Marriage Work was created after years of research to assist couples with improving their attunement and stabilizing their friendship foundation. Throughout their research, they identified seven important components to help a relationship succeed:
1) Enhance Love Maps: A map tells you where you are going and how to get there. Creating a love map is similar in the sense that it assists with increasing emotional intelligence and your ability to effectively manage conflict together (J. Gottman PhD & Silver, 2015b, page 54).
2) Nurture Fondness and Admiration: It is easy to get to a place of negativity in your relationship, hyperfocusing on all your partners traits that are irritating in the moment. While continuing to strengthen the friendship foundation, this chapter begins to challenge contemptuous thoughts/behaviors.
3) Turn Toward Each Other Instead of Away: Making a bid towards your partner is an attempt to build connection. Those bids can be big or small. However, the more often you accept a bid from your partner, the more you accumulate in your emotional bank account (J. Gottman PhD & Silver, 2015b, page 88).
4) Let Your Partner Influence You: This chapter discusses how resistance can start to make its way into a relationship, often increasing negativity and decreasing the frequency of a partner saying “yes” to their partner's needs.
5) Solve Your Solvable Problems: There are two types of problems, solvable and perpetual. This chapter explores solvable problems, perpetual problems, harsh start-ups, and soft start-ups to assist with managing conflict.
6) Overcome Gridlock: Do you ever feel stuck in an argument with no real solution? Typically, couples find themselves in gridlock when they are unable to accommodate each other due to perpetual problems (J. Gottman PhD & Silver, 2015b, page 236).
7) Create Shared Meaning: There are four pillars that foster shared meaning, those pillars being: Rituals of Connection, Support for Each Others’ Roles, Shared Goals, and Shared Values/Symbols.
After reading through these seven principles, you may become curious as to what areas of improvement your relationship may need. If so, processing through these principles with a therapist can provide you with the tools needed for a successful relationship.
By: Danielle Lockhart
Gottman, J., PhD, & Silver, N. (2015). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert. Harmony/Rodale.