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After 40 years of researching marriage and working with couples on workshops, psychology professor emeritus and writer John Gottman can tell whether your marriage will succeed or fail after listening to you for five minutes. The scary thing? He’s usually right, with a 91 per cent accuracy rate.
Gottman, who was featured in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, now shares informative insights on what makes a marriage work, fail, and debunks myths about marriage in his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.
In it, the four things you’ll have to work on, if you don’t want to be headed towards Splitsville.
It is okay to complain, but when your criticism crosses the line and borders on personal attack (i.e. telling him he’s a bad person for not doing his share of the chores instead of addressing the issue at hand), it’s time to seek help.
This is the single greatest predictor of divorce, according to Gottman, and we’re not surprised. When someone has contempt for his or her partner, it usually means a lack of respect. It can involve “sarcasm, name-calling, eye-rolling”, or anything that makes him or her feel worthless. “It’s virtually impossible to resolve a problem when your partner is getting the message that you’re disgusted with him or her.”
When you’re supposed to be supporting one another in your relationship, getting defensive all the time can be a huge turn-off. It’s “really a way of blaming your partner. You’re saying, in effect, ‘The problem isn’t me, it’s you.’ Defensiveness just escalates the conflict, which is why it’s so deadly.”
Cutting off communication and disengaging from the problem doesn’t mean you’re going to minimise conflict. In fact, you’re essentially “removing the person from the relationship”, which will make matters worse.
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is available on Amazon and in major bookstores.