Can you recommend a book for…?”
“What are you reading right now?”
“What are your favorite books?”
I get asked those types of questions a lot and, as an avid reader and all-around bibliophile, I’m always happy to oblige.
I also like to encourage people to read as much as possible because knowledge benefits you much like compound interest. The more you learn, the more you know; the more you know, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more opportunities you have to succeed.
So, if you’re a bookworm on the lookout for good reads, or if you’d like to get into the habit of reading, this is for you.
Okay, let’s get to the featured book: The Seven Principles That Make Marriage Work by John M. Gottman and Nan Silver.
The Seven Principles That Make Marriage Work is a practical, evidence-based book for strengthening a romantic relationship by improving communication, better managing conflict, and building trust and intimacy.
If you’re dating someone newly and are still in the “infatuation stage” of the relationship or have been together for some time but don’t have kids yet, you may not find this book and others like it particularly useful.
But, when the fascination fades—and it always does eventually—the relationship can wither if we don’t consciously do the right things, especially when life gets more stressful because of kids, career obligations, etc.
And what are those “right things”? That’s where this book can help.
It can’t provide all of the answers, of course, and you may find some of the advice in the book obvious and instinctive, but you’ll probably also learn some new and easy ways to improve your relationship by adding or changing just a few key behaviors.
Let’s get to the takeaways.
My 10 Key Takeaways from Seven Principles That Make Marriage Work
“In the strongest marriages, husband and wife share a deep sense of meaning. They don’t just ‘get along’—they also support each other’s hopes and aspirations and build a sense of purpose into their lives together.”
“In marriage people periodically make what I call ‘bids’ for their partner’s attention, affection, humor, or support. People either turn towards one another after these bids or they turn away. Turning towards is the basis of emotional connection, romance, passion, and a good sex life.”
“In our long-term study of 130 newlywed couples, now in its eighth year, we have found that, even in the first few months of marriage, men who allow their wives to influence them have happier marriages and are less likely to divorce than men who resist their wives’ influence. Statistically speaking, when a man is not willing to share power with his partner, there is an 81 percent chance that his marriage will self-destruct.”
“Through the course of their marriages, they had learned to view their partners’ shortcomings and oddities as amusing parts of the whole package of their spouse’s character and personality.”
“Conflict resolution is not about one person changing, it’s about negotiating, finding common ground and ways that you can accommodate each other.”
“Keep working on your unresolvable conflicts. Couples who are demanding of their marriage are more likely to have deeply satisfying unions than those who lower their expectations.”
“Acknowledging and respecting each other’s deepest, most personal hopes and dreams is the key to saving and enriching your marriage.”
“Partings. Make sure that before you say good-bye in the morning you’ve learned about one thing that is happening in your spouse’s life that day—from lunch with the boss to a doctor’s appointment to a scheduled phone call with an old friend. Time: 2 minutes a day × 5 working days Total: 10 minutes
“Reunions. Be sure to engage in a stress-reducing conversation at the end of each workday (see page 87). Time: 20 minutes a day × 5 days Total: 1 hour 40 minutes
“Admiration and appreciation. Find some way every day to communicate genuine affection and appreciation towards your spouse. Time: 5 minutes a day × 7 days Total: 35 minutes
“Affection. Kiss, hold, grab, and touch each other during the time you’re together. Make sure to kiss each other before going to sleep. Think of that kiss as a way to let go of any minor irritations that have built up over the day. In other words, lace your kiss with forgiveness and tenderness for your partner. Time: 5 minutes a day × 7 days Total: 35 minutes
“Weekly date. This can be a relaxing, low-pressure way to stay connected. Ask each other questions that let you update your love maps and turn towards each other. (Of course, you can also use these dates to talk out a marital issue or work through an argument you had that week, if necessary.) Think of questions to ask your spouse (like “Are you still thinking about redecorating the bedroom?” “Where should we take our next vacation?” or “How are you feeling about your boss these days?”). Time: 2 hours once a week Total: 2 hours
Grand Total: Five hours!”
“And, let’s face it: Anyone you marry will be lacking in certain desirable qualities. The problem is that we tend to focus on what’s missing in our mate and overlook the fine qualities that are there—we take those for granted.”
“Before you try to resolve a conflict, remember that the cornerstone of any compromise is the fourth principle of marriage—accepting influence. This means that for a compromise to work, you can’t have a closed mind to your spouse’s opinions and desires. You don’t have to agree with everything your spouse says or believes, but you have to be honestly open to considering his or her position.”