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Making a Marriage Work

06/28/2017 10:42AM ● Published by Digital Media Director

In The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John Gottman, Ph.D, a renowned clinical psychologist and marriage researcher, reveals what successful relationships look like and features valuable activities to help couples strengthen their relationships.

 
Below are his seven principles for building a strong “marital house,” along with helpful applications.  

1. “Enhance and develop your love maps.” Marital satisfaction is found in the details. According to Gottman, couples that are aware of their partner's world have richly developed love maps. Each partner has heart-felt knowledge of whom they’ve married –i.e. they know each other's favorite things, stressors, dreams and future desires.  

2. “Nurture and deepen your fondness and admiration.” Strong coupleships are built on respect and a sense of positive understanding for one another. Fondness and admiration are critical to couple strength. Gottman believes that without these components a marriage cannot survive.  

3. “Invite and allow your partner to influence you.” Strong coupleships are built on the reality of differences in perspective. Your partner’s sense of value increases if you seek their opinion on important matters.  

4. “Work at turning toward one another rather than away.” Coupleships that work, survive by hard work. It’s the behind-the-scenes details that help build a strong “marital house.” Turning toward one another is easy when it's good and/or new, but it’s strength building when you turn toward one another when it's bad, difficult or when you’re vulnerable. Remember, you’re building passion, connection and goodwill each time you exercise this muscle.  Turning toward your partner in the difficult times is like adding cash to your emotional 
savings account. As a matter of fact, Gottman uses the term: “Emotional bank account,”to describe the long term, collected experiences each couple has – you want your account in the black rather than the red.  

5. “Work only on your soluble problems.” I was surprised by this principle – I thought the best couples were problem or fight free. The best couples fight just like the worst couples – but the best couples have determined which fights are about things they can solve together and which hassles are perpetual and probably can’t be resolved for various reasons. When problem solving, remember the following:  
•Soften your start up.  
•Make and receive your partner’s repair attempts.  
•Soothe yourself and then your partner.  
•Work to compromise.  
•Accepting your flaws allows you to accept your partner's.  

6. “Work to overcome gridlock.” You want to move from traffic jam-like gridlock to meaningful dialogue. Perpetual problems are a clear sign of unfulfilled dreams. In other words, there’s a hole in your love map. Strong coupleships help and facilitate one another's dreams.  

7. “Create and facilitate shared meaning.” Strong relationships aren’t just about cleaning, paying bills, structuring, and loving. Strong couples take time to invest in the spiritual dimensions of their lives as well – Gottman calls this shared meaning.  Make your marriage work by doing the things that will pay dividends in the long haul!  

Dr. J.C. Chambers is a licensed psychologist who works at Stronghold Counseling Services. He is also a clinical member of American Association of Marriage & Family Therapist. 
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