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Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage: America's Love Lab Experts Share Their Strategies for Strengthening Your Relationship [Paperback]

John Gottman Ph.D. , Julie Schwartz Gottman , Joan DeClaire
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Book Description

June 26 2007
In 1994, Dr. John Gottman and his colleagues at the University of Washingto— made a startling announcement: Through scientific observation and mathematical analysis, they could predict—with more than 90 percent accuracy—whether a marriage would succeed or fail. The only thing they did not yet know was how to turn a failing marriage into a successful one, so Gottman teamed up with his clinical psychologist wife, Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, to develop intervention methods. Now the Gottmans, together with the Love Lab research facility, have put these ideas into practice. In Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage, the Gottmans share this vital information so that couples can develop the skills to turn their relationship problems around and create strong, lasting unions.

What emerged from the Gottmans’ collaboration and decades of research is a body of advice that’s based on two surprisingly simple truths: Happily married couples behave like good friends, and they handle their conflicts in gentle, positive ways. The authors offer an intimate look at ten couples who have learned to work through potentially destructive problems—extramarital affairs, workaholism, parenthood adjustments, serious illnesses, lack of intimacy—and examine what they’ve done to improve communication and get their marriages back on track.

Giving an insider’s view of the Love Lab, the Gottmans take the reader step-by-step through the couples’ conversations, before and after they are counseled. The authors also provide an analysis of the couples’ interactions, identifying their core problems and offering suggestions for resolving them. By “listening” to the discussions in this way, you will learn to detect the most common stumbling blocks of a relationship and—most important—how to avoid them.

Hundreds of thousands have seen their relationships improve thanks to the Gottmans’ work. Whether you want to make a strong relationship more fulfilling or rescue one that’s headed for disaster, Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage is essential reading.


From inside the famed Gottman Institute, aka the “Love Lab”: ten scientifically proven, practical ways to strengthen your marriage

“We don’t feel close anymore.”

“You never talk to me.”

“We only have time for the kids.”

“All you do is work.”

“You don’t care about my dreams.”

Do you recognize yourself, or your spouse, in any of these statements? If so, Dr. John Gottman and his wife, Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, say you shouldn’t be surprised. In fact, their decades of scientific research have shown that most couples face these and other serious problems—but what the Gottmans have proven is that such difficulties don’t have to lead to a broken relationship, or even divorce.

In Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage, the Gottmans provide vital tools—scientifically based and empirically verified—that you can use to regain affection and romance lost through years of ineffective communication. You’ll strengthen your relationship and make it the most fulfilling it can be.


From the Hardcover edition.

Frequently Bought Together

Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage: America's Love Lab Experts Share Their Strategies for Strengthening Your Relationship + The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert + The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships
Price For All Three: CDN$ 39.63


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Product Description

About the Author

John M. Gottman, Ph.D.,and Julie Schwartz Gottman, Ph.D., are the founders and directors of the Gottman Institute and the Relationship Research Institute in Seattle. The bestselling author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work and The Relationship Cure, among other books, John Gottman is a professor of psychology, an elected fellow of the American Psychological Association, and the recipient of numerous awards and commendations. His research and findings have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Time, the bestselling book Blink, and in the broadcast media. Julie Schwartz Gottman established the Gottman Institute’s Marriage Clinic and serves as its clinical director. A clinical psychologist, she is in private practice in Seattle, where the couple lives.

Joan DeClaire is a writer specializing in psychology, health, and family issues.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Introduction

From Predicting Divorce to Preventing It: An Introductory Message from John and Julie Gottman

It’s been more than a decade since John and his colleagues at the University of Washington (UW) first announced their discovery: Through the power of careful observation and mathematical analysis, the team had learned to predict with more than 90 percent accuracy whether a married couple would stay together or eventually divorce. This discovery captured the imagination of many. If research psychologists could now pinpoint specific behaviors that lead to divorce, then perhaps people in troubled relationships could change those behaviors and save their marriages.But as any weatherman can tell you, the ability to predict trouble is not the same as the ability to prevent it. It’s one thing to detect a storm brewing on radar; it’s quite another to make those storm clouds disappear.

And yet that’s the kind of work we at the Gottman Institute have been doing. Since 1994 we’ve been developing tools to help couples identify problems that are proven to destroy relationships—and to turn those problems around. By experimenting with various forms of therapy, we’ve been learning how to help husbands and wives improve their marriages and prevent divorce.

Through our workshops, therapy sessions, and books, couples are gaining the tools they need to build stronger friendships and manage their conflicts. As a result, they are learning to work through a whole host of problems common to marriage—problems such as these:

•the stress of caring for a new baby

•exhaustion from working too hard

•loss of interest in sex and romance

•health problems

•recovering from an extramarital affair

•struggles with depression

•arguments over housework and finances

•changes that come with retirement

•the loss of a job, an identity, or a lifelong dream

And once again we’re achieving some exciting results. Our studies show that 86 percent of people who complete our marriage workshops say they make significant progress on conflicts that once felt “gridlocked.” And after one year, 75 percent of husbands and 56 percent of wives who attend our workshops and therapy sessions feel their marriages move from a broken state to a functional one. Even simply reading our books can make a difference. One study showed that 63 percent of husbands and wives who read John’s 1999 bestseller, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, reported that their marriages had changed for the better and were still improved a year later.

These numbers are a big improvement over other forms of marital intervention. For example, acclaimed marriage researcher Neil Jacobson conducted an evaluation of one of the most highly regarded therapy methods and showed that only 35 percent of couples using it improved their marriages.

What’s behind our success? We believe it’s the science. The tools we’ve developed—and that you’ll see real couples using in this book—aren’t based on our beliefs or whims about marriage. They are grounded in decades of work John and his colleagues have been doing at the Family Research Laboratory, originally located at UW and now part of our Relationship Research Institute in Seattle. The Love Lab—as we’ve come to call it—is a research facility where husbands and wives are screened, interviewed, and observed interacting with each other. Researchers use video cameras, heart monitors, and other biofeedback equipment to determine people’s stress levels during conversations with their partners. This information is then coded and mathemati- cally analyzed. By collecting and analyzing such data on thousands of couples—and tracking their progress over time—we’ve learned an enormous amount about the dynamics of marriage. And, ultimately, we’ve been able to determine which interactions lead to lasting happiness, and which interactions lead to emotional distance and divorce.

In the bestselling book Blink (Little Brown, 2005), journalist Malcolm Gladwell refers to our process as “thin slicing.” Simply put, this means we’re able to quickly determine a great deal of information about a couple from analyzing a very thin slice of data collected in one short lab session. The reason our swift analysis works is because each thin slice of data is actually grounded in a tremendous amount of “thick slicing”—i.e., huge volumes of data that we’ve been collecting and validating on thousands of other couples for more than thirty years.

To help everyday couples use these discoveries to improve their own marriages, we established the Gottman Institute, which provides therapy and workshops for husbands and wives, as well as training for marriage therapists. Combining John’s extensive research findings with Julie’s thirty years of experience as a clinical psychologist, we’ve developed a body of advice that’s based on two surprisingly simple truths:

1. Happily married couples behave like good friends.

In other words, their relationships are characterized by respect, affection, and empathy. They pay close attention to what’s happening in each other’s life and they feel emotionally connected. One of John’s studies of couples discussing conflict demonstrated this well. It showed that spouses in happy, stable marriages made five positive remarks for every one negative remark when they were discussing conflict. In contrast, couples headed for divorce offered less than one (0.8) positive remark for every single negative remark.

2. Happily married couples handle their conflicts in gentle, positive ways.

They recognize that conflict is inevitable in any marriage, and that some problems never get solved, never go away. But these couples don’t get gridlocked in their separate positions. Instead, they keep talking with each other about conflicts. They listen respectfully to their spouses’ perspectives and they find compromises that work for both sides.

With this book, we give you an intimate view of ten couples who learned to work through serious problems that were threatening their marriages—problems like infidelity, overwork, adjustment to parenthood, unresolved anger and resentment, and a loss of interest in sex. You’ll learn a bit about each couple’s background and how they perceived the problems they brought to the Love Lab. You’ll also read parts of the conversations that occurred when we asked husbands and wives to talk to each other about their problems.

For each couple, we present two dialogues, one that took place before we counseled them and one that happened after they heard our advice. In addition, you’ll see a commentary alongside each dialogue titled “What We Noticed.” This gives you a therapist’s perspective on the interaction so that you might learn to detect some of the most common stumbling blocks that occur in relationships. You may notice, for example, places where a few words spoken in haste can take a conversation—and a marriage—down a dangerous path. You may learn to spot behaviors proven by John’s research to damage relationships. These include a set of particularly poisonous patterns of interaction we call “the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” Our studies have shown that, left unchecked, these behaviors can send couples into a downward spiral that ends in divorce. The Four Horsemen are

*Criticism. Often, criticism appears as a complaint or episode of blaming that’s coupled with a global attack on your partner’s personality or character. Criticism frequently begins with “you always” or “you never.”

*Defensiveness. These are the counterattacks people use to defend their innocence or avoid taking responsibility for a problem. Defensiveness often takes the form of cross-complaining or whining.

*Contempt. This is criticism bolstered by hostility or disgust. Think of somebody rolling their eyes while you’re trying to tell them something important about yourself. Contempt often involves sarcasm, mocking, name-calling, or belligerence.

*Stonewalling. This happens when listeners withdraw from the conversation, offering no physical or verbal cues that they’re affected by what they hear. Interacting with somebody who does this is “like talking to a stone wall.”

Our commentary also indicates the places where these couples make great strides—i.e., where they say or do something that strengthens the relationship by making them feel closer, encouraging compromise, or healing old wounds. Examples of such positive behaviors include

*Softened start-up. This is the ability to start talking about a complaint or a problem gently, without criticizing or insulting your partner. When one spouse does this, the other is more willing to listen, making compromise possible.

*Turning toward your partner. Close relationships consist of a series of “emotional bids”—that is, your partner reaches out for emotional connection with a comment, a question, a smile, or a hug. You can choose to

1. turn away, ignoring the bid

2. turn against, reacting with anger or hostility

3. turn toward, showing you’re open, listening, and engaged

Our research shows that habitually turning away or turning against your partner’s bids harms your marriage. But consistently turning toward your partner strengthens emotional bonds, friendship, and romance.

*Repairing the conversation. This ...

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book May 16 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is well written and the research is well documented. The concepts this couple uses are applicable to our day to day lives.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was very easy to read and understand.

Much of the advice was a "no-brainer", but most of the advice was stuff we just don't think about, or if we do, we don't express it properly to our partner. The book provided some really good examples, and how to deal with them.

It wasn't full of "scientific stats", just the plain truth.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars Aug. 27 2014
By LC
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  40 reviews
176 of 184 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More useful than "Seven Principles" June 9 2006
By J. Grattan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The authors operate a Love Lab for troubled marriages. By miking and video taping the couples, the authors analyze the language and attitudes for their impact on resolving the problems, both in a negative and positive sense. This book follows the problem resolution process for ten couples that have issues that others are likely to have, like too much work, infidelity, emotional distance, irritability and nagging, dominance of kids, humdrum existence, etc.

This book is really a follow up to the earlier "Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work" by the same author. But it is far more practical. In each chapter devoted to a particular couple and problem, the language used is analyzed in a step-by-step manner. The authors become involved by directing the conversations in a direction of complaining gently without criticizing and deescalating negative behaviors. The earlier "principles" are invoked but in the context of the current situation. Follow up sessions are supplied in some cases.

The authors seem to have stepped back a bit from the self-promotion that oozed from the earlier work. It is a better book. The main criticism of the book is the assumption that all marriages can be made to work. Some cannot despite civility.
120 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I give copies of this book as wedding gifts. Nov. 19 2006
By Groovy Vegan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When it comes to books on marriage and relationships, I rely on the Gottman books, where the concepts were gleaned from scientific observation and statistical analysis, rather than pop psychology and opinion. For several years, I have been giving "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work" (SP) as wedding gifts, and now I include "10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage" (10L) as well.

Although SP and 10L cover much of the same material, SP explains the concepts in more depth with exercises to apply the material, whereas 10L explains the concepts in a concise yet functional manner, and is heavier on application. I find both books equally valuable and highly recommend one read both--SP first, then 10L, although 10L is perfectly usable as a stand-alone book.

In 10L, we're introduced to 10 couples, each with a different issue. One couple, for example, has a marriage that's so child-centered they're not taking adequate time for themselves. Another couple lives a parallel existence in the house as roommates who don't get along very well. The Gottmans devote a chapter to each couple's problem. In each chapter, there's an explanation of the problem along with a transcript of the couple having a conversation (in some cases an argument!) about their issue. To the right of the dialog, the Gottmans comment on what they notice, with plus or minus signs, a very helpful feature that helps the reader integrate the principles into a real-life situation. After the initial dialog, the Gottmans comment on what the husband and wife did that was helpful or detrimental, and how they can improve. The couple was then sent back to have a second conversation, and in each case the couple made improvements on how they dealt with the issue. Each chapter finishes with more comments from the Gottmans, along with an update on the couple (usually one year later), and an exercise for reader to do with her or his partner.

As I read the dialogs, I covered up the Gottmans' comments and thought my own, then checked to see what the Gottmans thought. Soon I was analyzing the dialog like a pro, which helped me see how to apply the concepts to real life at a deeper level than I gained from just reading SP and John Gottman's earlier book, "Why Marriages Succeed or Fail." One thing I like is that the Gottmans get at the deeper meaning behind some seemingly mundane conflicts. One couple was discussing the time constraints of childcare and volunteer work, but the deeper issue was that they failed to recognize each others' dreams.

Unlike the Gottmans, I thought several of the couples were too incompatible to be married. One husband lost their retirement money in a bad deal, had an affair, and routinely minimized his wife's feelings in conversation. I thought this man is too self-centered and immature to be married. However, the Gottmans worked with this couple who reported a year later that on a scale from 1 to 10, they've improved from a 4 or 5 to a 9. Granted the Gottmans didn't use cases where they couple had separated or divorced by the follow-up period.

I think many couples are too incompatible to be married in the first place. However, if both parties take the time to diligently learn and apply the Gottman communication and relationship skills, they'll at the very least be less miserable than they were to begin with. I think the Gottman material is so valuable, you could randomly select any two adults from the phone book, and as long as neither is a sociopath, both could apply the Gottman principles and live together civilly for a year or more!
75 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical Advice Backed by Research Nov. 20 2006
By HLP - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As a marriage and family therapist, I rely most heavily on the work of John Gottman, because he is one of the only authors/relationship experts who uses scientific research to identify the components of successful and unsuccessful relationships.

Ten Lessons To Transform Your Marriage is an engaging format to present his "Love Lab" research findings and related relationship advice. The ten "lessons" were presented through ten different couples, and it was easy to become engrossed in the story of each couple as they talked through their relationship issues. Embedded within each couple's conversation are clues about how they interact and connect, and the dynamics underlying their conflict. By following these conversations and the authors interventions, readers will learn how to uncover the deeper issues underlying ongoing conflicts, as well as how to use productive communication tools to transform relationship issues into relationship improvement and positive change.

What I like most about this book is its message that relationships can be healed and changed even in the face of significant pain, hurt and disappointment. John Gottman's work illustrates that relationship success is not just about a couple's compatibility or about never hurting each other, but instead about open, effective communication. This is a great "reality check" for all couples. This book will ideally give a lot of couples hope about how to transform their relationship problems into fulfillment and satisfaction through the right kind of communication.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than 10 Lessons April 19 2012
By T. Arthur - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
10 Lessons to Transform Your Marraige
By John & Julie Gottman
Rating: 8 of 10

I first heard about the Gottmans while listening to Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink. Gladwell described them as relationship experts who after briefly listening to a couple argue could predict whether they would be together or not in seven years with 90% accuracy! That got my attention. It turns out that there are four "horsemen" that the Gottmans look for: criticism, stonewalling, defensiveness, and contempt. If one of these behaviors shows up in an argument (especially contempt), your relationship is unlikely to have a happy future.

Ten Lessons is the Gottman's positive take on their negative research: what can couples do to enhance their relationship and dismount the four horsemen? What makes this book so engaging is that the ten lessons are ten different scenarios that regularly come up in many relationships and are explored through verbatim conversations with real-life couples. These ten lessons range from addiction to work and healing form an affair to lack of passion and nagging. Anyone deal with those issues in their marriage?

In each chapter the Gottmans introduce you to a new couple and their argument. The verbatims are like sitting in on a real-life counseling session. You hear how the couples discuss and argue. Then the Gottmans do some teaching and training on how to have the conversation in a different way with tips like, "How to complain without criticizing," and then the couples give the conflict another go around. It is fascinating to see how a conflict that had deep ruts built over years and years of arguing can actually change course.

I liked this book and the Gottman's take on marriage so much that my wife and I have decided to use their home-retreat package for a personal home workshop on our fifteenth anniversary. The box, which arrived in the mail last week, comes with DVDs, two workbooks, and several cards for exercises. We've scheduled a two-day two-night getaway at an historic inn that also has a DVD player and comfy chairs in the room. Given that we have made it to fifteen years, I don't think we're in any danger of failing the Gottman's seven-year prediction test, but that doesn't mean that we don't still have things to learn about loving one another better. If Ten Lessons is any indication of what we're in for, then our commitment, connection, and love for one another will learn even more lessons over this marriage getaway.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful! Aug. 25 2006
By Andrew Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I listened to the audiobook of this title, and found so much material here that is relevant to my situation. The dialogs presented and the analysis and recommendations really helped me to see patterns of my own behavior that I can change to improve my marriage (and for that matter, other relationships). This is really a great book.
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