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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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10 of 10 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Started a new chapter of my life!, May 21 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 few years ago, my marriage was going down the drain. I had no idea what was going on or what I could do about it. I felt helpless, hopeless and unhappy. Until then, I was very skeptical about these types of books so I never read them. But became so desperate that I opened this book in a store like a drowning person reaching for a straw. That was the beginning of the end. This book forced me to see my marriage from a completely objective point of view and helped me realize how I was part of the problem. Bad habits die hard but I kept making an effort to change. After a month or two, my spouse noticed this change and became curious about the book as well. We became even more interested in these things and read another book called "The Ever-Transcending Spirit" by Toru Sato (I'd highly recommend this fabulous book too if you are ready to take one more positive step in your relationships). Now we appreciate each other. Now we talk about meaningful and interesting things in life. Even though this may sound very cheesy, in many ways we could say that our marriage is in a renaissance period. We still have a long way to go but there already is a newfound calmness in our lives that was never there before.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Bull. Just Research and Experience, April 30 2004
By 
Sarah (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert (Paperback)
Gottman debunks the pop-psychology theories and goes for the facts. His books are GREAT for those of us too cynical to swallow the latest relationsip fad, or for those too rational to believe we're all born into a box we can't get out of.
Gottman's approach is practical, sensible, and open to all types of people and all types of relationships. You don't have to give up who you are or try to make your marriage look like someone else's. Just start with simple steps to do more of what works to help your relationship, and begin to recognize what you might want to do less.
Best of all, it's all backed by science! Gottman doesn't just preach his assumptions and opinions. He's actually studied real people for three decades, and he has great examples of how similar signs of hope or problems show up in situations and people that may seem very different.
Even my husband, phobic of psychology, was willing to talk about the ideas in this book. There is no higher praise.
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Filled with tools my wife & I use to strengthen our marriage, Sept. 11 2003
This review is from: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert (Paperback)
As a relationship and romance author, speaker, and coach I read a lot of books about dating, marriage, and romance. "Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work" is one of my top 10 favorites. The seven principles identified through Gottman's research are powerful and when coupled with the exercises that are included you get practical tools to strengthen your marriage.
The first two chapters give you an insight into where the book is coming from. The information gleened from the Seattle Love Lab gives you hope for a successful marriage and identifies key warning signs for trouble in your relationship.
The next seven chapters cover the principles in depth with skill building exercises to enhance your proficiency in each area. First is building a foundation with "Love Maps." Next is developing a compassion and caring with "Fondness and Admiration." Chapter 5 focuses on creating an intimate relationship by looking to your partner for help, support, and answers. Giving a higher value and priority to your partner follows allowing you to be influenced by them. The next three chapters cover problems in the marriage and how to handle them. Work, money, in-laws, [physical attraction], housework, and a new baby are the big six areas of conflict. Some problems are solvable and some not. How you handle the conflict is key. Next the book covers"Overcoming Gridlock" or creating a dialogue and point of acceptance for unsolvable problems. The final chapter is really about creating a shared vision for the marriage and the future of it.
The benefits of marriage are well documented; longer life, more money, healthier children, and better [physical activity]. "Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work" gives you a practical guide for achieving those benefits, and more!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, with some reservations to keep in mind...., Oct. 18 2002
This review is from: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert (Paperback)
I loved this book, but am afraid it may be a bit misleading to the average couple. The book identifies things which are common to successful marriages, and offers great exercises for each principle. It is easy to read and understand and I highly recommend it.
However, I do have concerns that the author denigrates marriage counseling so often. I agree with him that communication is not always the key to successful relationships, but a good therapist will help the couple to use good communication while also creating a better relationship based on these principles. John Gottman conducts very important research into marriage relationships, and understanding the principles of a strong marriage is important. However, if the average couple were to take this book as a "to-do" list, it would not necessarily create a good marriage. These principles need to have belief and passion supporting them, the principles alone are not enough.
I highly recommend this book as a resource for integrating with other relationship resources.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 13 year marriage surviving transsexualism used these ideas, April 23 1999
By A Customer
I have been married for 13 years and have been with my spouse for 16 years and our marriage has survived her discovering she was lesbian and me facing that I was transsexual. As a happily married person (yes, we're still married even though I am legally a woman today), an author (Chi Gung: Chinese Healing, Energy, and Natural Magick by L.V. Carnie), and a Two-Spirit Shaman, I have devoted my life since a near-death incident at the age of five to learning to pay attention to others and to help whenever I could. Today, I spend about 20 hours a day healing and sometimes even literally saving the lives of plants, animals, and people in crisis situations and even though that would seem to stress a marriage, we have found that we work as a team by using the principles I now see revealed in this wonderful book such as paying attention to the little details.
I highly suggest anybody interested in improving their marriage or preparing for marriage to read this book. Sure, I just read it now, but the very things that I have done to make my marriage successful are the things mentioned in this incredible 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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5.0 out of 5 stars Way better than I expected., Jan. 12 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)
Actually, I'm not sure *what* I expected. I guess I figured I'd hear more of the same ~ that a failing marriage is all about communication. I feared the advice in this book would be vague at best, but I gave it a shot (thanks Amazon reviewers), and now I'm grateful to have found it.
His first two chapters explain his findings after studying real life couples and how they interact. I found reading about other couples' arguments eye opening, as I sometimes saw myself in them. Being the objective observer in these cases allowed me to consider my own approach to arguments with my husband and instantly see how I unintentionally made things worse. The chapter "How I Predict Divorce" is especially helpfull. Our approach to an argument makes all the difference in the world, and it's so much more than "I understand what you're saying, but..." Gottman points out specific mistakes we all make that, over time, will chip away at the foundation of the relationship.
Gottman reminds us, though, that learning how to fight isn't going to single handedly save the marriage. The rest of the book is dedicated to how couples behave when they aren't fighting. Are you really, truly friends? Do you honestly know what's important to one another? Do you influence each other in a positive way? Questions like these force us to examine our relationship in depth. He includes exercises in each chapter (I haven't done these personally...right now, I'm the only one who's reading up on marriage and conflict) to hammer home the point. Honestly, I liked this book so much, I'd be interested in doing some of the exercises, but I'm not so sure my husband would. Let me put it this way...we aren't in the same place yet.
I highly recommend this book. I love the fact that Gottman can take his findings and share them with the reader in plain English. His approach is just right: informative and to the point.
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