Edmonton Psychologist | Gottman’s The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

At ReDiscover Psychology we want to help you rediscover your relationships so that you have less struggle and more joy. We enter marriage to create a new life together as a couple but when we come to this passage, we bring our values and experiences with us. Sometimes these things do not exactly match or even relate to each other. Every relationship has its hurdles but if you can understand one another and work towards building a healthy, loving and fulfilling connection you will have found a beautiful thing. There are no perfect connections but how we work through conflict in our relationships can make it worth the work.

In Gottman’s The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work he helps couples enrich their friendship and improve their marriage while working through the challenges that inevitably come. Which is why we adhere to these principles when helping our clients.

Making Marriage Work

The first principle Gottman shares is share love maps. If you think about love you may come to realize it is a deep, unconditional action that you take towards someone. When you couple that with a map you can see how it is a way to organize the information you find about your partner. The things they like and dislike, their past, and what they hope for their future are all parts of the map. When you desire your partner you store that information and it helps you know them, love them deeper, and find out what makes them tick. This is an important part of a healthy and loving connection.

Nurturing your fondness and admiration is the second principal that Gottman says is important for you in making  marriage work. When you show things like respect and admiration you start to see the positive things in your spouse rather than only seeing what you would like to change about them. As you build up your partner you both reap the rewards. By showing appreciation and giving compliments this all helps to enjoy each other’s company. These are the building blocks of friendship which is the foundation of every successful marriage.

Turning towards each other instead of away shows you care about the time you spend with one another. If you are always going in different directions it becomes increasingly harder to be friends let alone a married couple. A gap will grow and eventually you will be living two separate lives. When you turn to one another you show the value you hold for your partner and the space you hold for them to share their life with you.

By including your partner in many parts of your life you enhance the love and intimacy. This is also an effective way to build trust because if you are there for your spouse it communicates to them, that you are dependable and can be trusted to be there for them in the future.

Be mindful how your partner thinks and reacts

Letting your partner influence you is the next principle Gottman says to live by, if you want to be making marriage work, is to be happy and intimate. This is the part of your relationship where you make decisions together. You both have input and come to a compromise even if you do not always agree with one another. The other part of this is respecting the decisions one another make and both being active individually and together.

When you allow someone to influence you in decision making, you are communicating respect and trust for that partner. As you consider your partner’s feelings and opinions it shows them they are seen and heard in the relationship and that builds trust and respect.

Solve your solvable problems is one of the most interesting principles that Gottman says helps you build a lasting and harmonious marriage. We all have conflict, and it is not a negative thing in itself. How we deal with it is where the work is but also the reward. We cannot expect to come together as two people into one without clashing in areas of our lives. We bring with us a set of values as well as experiences that likely are different from each other.

It is imperative that we dig deeper to understand our own values and as well as our spouse’s. Once we know and understand those we can work together to create a shared value system derived in compromise. We come by this through conflict and how we work through it. Only some conflict is solvable while most is not, so it is important to negotiate through it in a concerted effort.

The end goal is not to solve the conflict but rather find compromises that work for each partner. Gottman suggests varied approaches on how to manage the conflict constructively. These include softened start up, repair and deescalate, physiological self-soothing, accepting what you cannot change, accepting influence and compromise.

Principle to help break a relationship stalemate

Gottman’s principal overcoming gridlock is designed to help couples move past a stalemate. When both partners work through discovery of what is causing their roadblock and then take steps to overcome it they have the chance to resolve those underlying issues. This does not suggest fixing the roadblocks but rather figuring out how to overcome them in a way that helps both partners move forward past them in the relationship. This allows the couple to have healthy and productive conversations where there is cooperation and compromise.

The final principle Gottman suggests in making marriage work great, is to create shared meaning. The goal of this principle is to create a life you both want to engage in and live out together as a married couple. You find your place in the family and know what it means to be a part of it. This takes a lot of work and is a lifelong marriage goal. This is not just a fifty-fifty share of a relationship but rather a one hundred percent all in on both sides of the relationship.

You find an inner connection that helps you both identify as a family. You appreciate each other’s roles. The goals you have are shared and you work towards bringing them to life. This is the path in making marriage work in a way that is meaningful for both partners.

For more information or guidance be sure to contact the experts of ReDiscover Psychology.