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71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Debunks a million myths, offers sound advice
I practiced psychotherapy in New York City for fourteen years. Though I had training as a marriage counselor in addition to my main training as a psychotherapist, I turned away more couples than I accepted. Most years, I didn't take on more than one or two couples, if that.
There were many reasons for this, but fundamentally it was that marriage counseling rarely...
Published on Jan. 22 2003 by Bob Fancher

versus
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Patent-phobia
Greetings,
I've read the text of "Seven Principles", and I am very much
dismayed at how aggressively John Gottman has displayed his work. He should have titled it "My Seven Principles", implying
that he has sole ownership of the research accumulated. I don't
find his methodology entirely substantive, especially the so-called "Love Lab" that he cites...
Published on May 31 2002


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71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Debunks a million myths, offers sound advice, Jan. 22 2003
By 
This review is from: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert (Paperback)
I practiced psychotherapy in New York City for fourteen years. Though I had training as a marriage counselor in addition to my main training as a psychotherapist, I turned away more couples than I accepted. Most years, I didn't take on more than one or two couples, if that.
There were many reasons for this, but fundamentally it was that marriage counseling rarely works. (About thirty-five to forty percent of the time, and half of those relapse, according to the best research.) I had made a vow when I went into training that I would never take on patients that I did not honestly believe I could help. (I can't say that I kept that vow sterling, being human--but I tried.) Most couples, I believed, could not be helped, so I didn't want to take their money or waste their time.
In hard, cold truth, most of what most marriage counselors teach is just made up. Concocted. Without any sound research base. That's just a fact. When I was in training, I was utterly shocked at this. I was appalled at the simple-minded dogmatism of marriage-counseling orthodoxy.
Most mental health care has a flimsier basis in research than its proponents admit (or even know, often), but in marriage counseling, the paucity of good research was almost total. (This evaluation of the low scientific basis of mental health care is not some private crackpot theory of mine; I wrote it up in my book "Cultures of Healing," which was published by the book-publishing arm of Scientific American in 1995 and will be republished, under a different title--"Health and Suffering in America: The Context and Content of Mental Health Care"--next year by Transaction Publishers/Rutgers. My point here is not to plug my book so much as to tell you that I know whereof I speak, and to encourage you to take my recommendation here seriously.)
If I had known John Gottman's work back then, I would have had an entirely different approach to treating couples, and I would have taken more of them on. (No one in my three years of training ever mentioned Gottman, and I went to a pretty respectable institute. Gottman is just so at odds with conventional wisdom in the field that he wasn't even taken seriously.)
Gottman's opinions--though he denies that they are opinions--are based on admirable, extensive, carefully analyzed research. While there is much to criticize methodologically about this research, and it certainly is nowhere near as conclusive as he says, at least he has done real work--not sat around making stuff up and pawning it off on students and patients. His is the best research of which I (now, many years later) know. Even if it isn't knock-down-drag-out conclusive, it is much better to have opinions based on extensive research and attempts to understand it rigorously than on no research, wild speculation, wishful thinking, and wooly feelings. Gotttman's opinions are very good, for the most part.
This book does a nice job of conveying the gist of his work, in clear, practical form.
In my experience, most marriage counselors do more harm than good and teach more made-up nonsense that practical wisdom. So unless you can find someone who trained with Gottman, I'd say DON'T go to a marriage counselor--buy this book.
If you ARE seeing a marriage counselor, read this book and discuss with your counselor where his or her views differ. Ask for the basis for what your counselor does differently. Maybe it will make sense. But if your counselor is not open to the possibility of modifying his or her approach based on what you find valuable here, at least for your therapy, fire him. Or her. Whatever. Just run.

Why only four stars? Two reasons: (1) Gottman does not allow that for some significant minority, the difficluties in marriage are much more complex and intractable. E.g., while he is right that ordinary neuroses themselves do not kill marriage--so long as you marry someone whose neuroses match up with yours, or who can tolerate yours--it is certainly the case that some mental illnesses, such as paranoia and borderline personality, make marriage extremely hard. (2) A little humility on Gottman's part would make this book much easier to read and leave more room for the intelligent, wise reader to disagree, modify, and make it his or her own. Gottman is much too taken with himself, and while his research is more extensive and careful than most anything else done in the field, marriage counseling ain't physics (or biology or even sociology), and it certainly should not be granted the authority Gottman claims for it.
This isn't the final word on marriage, but it is about the best of the overly-many words that have heretofore been uttered.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gottman Crafts Highly Readable, Practical Guide, April 13 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert (Paperback)
A friend of mine lent me a copy of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work and said: "What do you think of this?" I read it and thought I would share my answer which is - it's a "fun read". Any author who calls his university's marital research laboratory a "love lab" has to have a sense of humor! And while this is true, this book is by no means frivolous.
John M. Gottman has crafted a highly readable, practical guide for "making marriages work" that is based on over sixteen years of extensive academic research. Based on what he has learned, he debunks the myths most commonly articulated as causes for failed marriages, talks about six warning signs he uses to predict divorce with an accuracy of 91% and then suggests seven principles he finds have been useful for couples interested in strengthening their commitment and their marriage.
Interestingly, Mr. Gottman discredits the notion of many traditional marriage counselors (a group to which he confesses to have been a member at an earlier stage of his career) who are quick to suggest that "an enduring, happy marriage" is all about good communications and "learning to resolve your conflicts." The problem, Gottman says, is that this approach just doesn't work.
Mr. Gottman says the simple truth, based on his research, is that "happy marriages are based on a deep friendship" - mutual respect, enjoyment of each other's company. This deep friendship is something he says can be developed and he provides many, many exercises related to each of his principles for couples to use as a framework for doing so.
As I was reading this book, I thought of another book I have read recently that might also be of interest to those looking for magic in their relationships. It's called "Working on Your Relationship Doesn't Work" by Ariel and Shya Kane. Both the Gottman and the Kane books are great reads and can be used to compliment each other.
The Gottman book is more analytical and the exercises provide examples of an applied methodology for change and improvement - a "change model." The Kanes focus on awareness in an anthropological sense of looking purely and non-judgmentally at "what is"--of one's own behaviors and of the behaviors of others. In their view, awareness without judgment is the vehicle for personal transformation, greater satisfaction and a magical relationship. Interesting contrast in approach--I think you'll like it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for any couple!, Feb. 26 2010
By 
J. Csiki "Eliza Bennet" (Vancouver, BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert (Paperback)
I picked this up because it was on display on a Valentine's stand and started thumbing through it out of curiosity. Ended up purchasing it because it looked interesting. I'm not even married but it definitely applies to any couple. And why not get advice on making a marriage last before you're married rather than when it's in trouble?! The authors have some great views on communication and the dynamics of a relationship. Furthermore, the book doesn't just give opinions and advice; it's very hands on and gives interesting assignments for you and your partner to get to know each other at the deepest levels. Plus it's a super easy read! I would totally recommend this book!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Patent-phobia, May 31 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert (Paperback)
Greetings,
I've read the text of "Seven Principles", and I am very much
dismayed at how aggressively John Gottman has displayed his work. He should have titled it "My Seven Principles", implying
that he has sole ownership of the research accumulated. I don't
find his methodology entirely substantive, especially the so-called "Love Lab" that he cites in his works as being the end-all and be-all of analyzing personal interactions between partners or married couples. Any monkey can demonstrate whatsoever behavior pleases it when surveyed by a one-way (sorry John, not "two way") window, and video cameras. To even pretend that this represents a realistic setting to study relationships, then claim derivations from it like "Seven Principles" as being the key to fame and marital relation fortune strikes me as vanity at best, and obsequious at the least.
The book is decent enough - it does lay out some useful cues and information, while deriding current psychotheraputical practices such as "active communications", in favor of a lab of eager observers pouring over videotapes and one-way window transactions. I think the part I particularly find offensive is that Gottman knows all syndrome, which is self-evident in this text, and even more in his "Relationship Cure", now just going into paperback. I would not recommend the latter under any circumstances - it made me angry and offended just to read
this crap, much less take the so-called tests.
The Seven Principles does warrant a look-see, as long as one takes into account the ego of the author, the egregious situation of the so-called love lab and what it presents to the voyeur (sorry, investigator). There are some good things in this book, but I have to admit ego-suppresion was a major factor in my slow read of this so-called treatise. It seems Dr. Gottman is more eager to match Oprah's earnings, than to
talk true psychology in the books I have read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars solid and evidence based, May 29 2014
By 
Richard Schwindt (Kingston, Ontario) - See all my reviews
I love sending my clients off to read Gottman or look up his videos. Marital counselling is challenging at the best of times for both therapists and clients. This is the best book I have read for guidance. He is a researched and clinician, so has much to give. That he is an engaging writer is a bonus. If you want to learn how to better communicate with your spouse this book is highly recommended.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A breakthrough book that saved our marriage!, Jan. 22 2006
By 
William Richardson (Pittsburg, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert (Paperback)
We have been married for 14 years and recently my wife and I faced a lot of challenges that threatened to break our relationship. I still love her very much and immediately looked for a down-to-earth, doable and working approaching to solving our conflicts. It was a great relieve to find this book and thanks to it we realized a lot of things.
There were personal aspects we had to accept that will not go away. I think that one of the most valuable benefits from this book is that it shows you what is irresolvable and what CAN be solved. The book is based on years of rigorous scientific research so you know for sure what really matters in a marriage and what doesn't. In this way we were able to focus on the resolvable and really important aspects of our relationships.
Dr. Gottman has outlined 4 marital killers and 7 principles of a strong and happy marriage. There are questionnaires that helped us to identify the strong and weak points of our relationship and don't waste time improving what's fine. I can say that after 3 weeks the chances are that we will overcome this crisis and have stronger and happier marriage in the coming years thanks to this excellent book.
One of the aspects that it helped us to identify as very important is the periods of intimacy and the satisfaction from them. That's why an also breakthrough book which helped us incredibly a lot in this direction was "Scientifically guaranteed male multiple orgasms and ultimate sex" by Alan Ritz. We highly recommend both books as the very best in their areas!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, July 15 2014
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This review is from: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert (Paperback)
Very helpful and practical.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, May 28 2014
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Perfect not only for when you're relationship is in trouble but a great tool to keep it from getting there. We use it as a tool to keep dialogue open before there are any problems!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, April 20 2014
This review is from: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert (Paperback)
I love the exercises in each chapter. The book is written based on research and I loved that the concepts did not focus on using the more traditional therapy communication styles such as using I statements which rarely works int the heat of the moment but rather having a strong foundation within the relationship.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Must for all couples, April 10 2014
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This review is from: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert (Paperback)
If you cherish your marriage, this is the cheapest investment with potentially the biggest long-term impact in your marriage or your life. If your marriage is successful, why not make it better or find out why it is successful. If your marriage is failing, there could still be hope. If your marriage has failed, maybe you can find out why from reading this. Whatever your circumstances, this book encompasses concepts that make sense. But you need to be open minded. A vacation is not going to save your marriage. Trust me. I tried. A mutual understanding is what you need. Get and read the book.
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