• The 7 Principles For Making Marriage Work by John Gottman – Relationship Advice ► Book Summary
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John Gottman has revolutionized the study of marriage by using rigorous scientific procedures to observe the habits of married couples in unprecedented detail over many years. Here is the culmination of his life's work: the seven principles that guide couples on the path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship. Packed with practical questionnaires and exercises, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is the definitive guide for anyone who wants their relationship to attain its highest potential.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; 1 edition (May 16, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609805797
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609805794
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces

Customer Reviews

Lots of insight regardless of whether you’re married, engaged, or just dating

23 people found this helpful.
 on July 2, 2016
By Nora L.
This was an extremely insightful read leading up to (ironically) my divorce. It helped me to more clearly identify what was going wrong in my marriage and what it would take to fix it. His descriptions of the different ways couples argue were especially helpful. He provides relationship strengthening exercises that can be done individually or as a couple. One exercise in particular provided a lot of clarity because my immediate thought on reading it was, “This seems like a really good idea, but the emotional toll it would take on me given the state of our relationship isn’t a cost I’m willing to bear.” That sober look at the costs necessary to repair my marriage allowed me to clearly see the pros and cons of staying in the relationship. Although we ultimately divorced, I continue to use the insight I gained from this book in evaluating the health and long-term viability of my dating relationships.

Read with a highlighter in hand

14 people found this helpful.
 on January 26, 2015
By BHodges
Seven Principles is a research-based book addressing a variety of marital difficulties. Gottman bases his advice on clinical studies—observable, repeatable, and quantifiable data—which makes the heart-directed core of his book all the more more surprising. It promotes a science of emotion and communication. It’s a bit on the long side due to its many examples and descriptions, but it’s worth sticking through to the end. The questionnaires peppered throughout the book are particularly useful at helping you diagnose areas which need improvement, followed by specific counsel on how to improve. In short: this is much more a workbook with assignments than a lecture or sermon to memorize.


4 people found this helpful.
 on December 9, 2012
By D. Cumberland
This book comes from the knowledgeable position of research into married couples from an observation methodology. I liked that especially well; it’s not opinion-based. Once I began reading, I could see clearly how marriages I know that have failed do trot out the “four horsemen” and how admiration and friendship radiate in marriages I admire. I applied some principles in this book and some from “How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It” and saw an immediate positive difference in my own marriage. The only reason I give four stars rather than five is because this book approaches all the exercises from the assumption that the couple is equally interested in the “let’s work on our marriage” perspective, which would not be useful for me. This is one element I like better about the other book. However, you can still do or partially do the exercises in this book without sitting down as a couple and “agreeing” to work on the marriage, and it will still have tremendously positive results if only one person makes a decision to do these positive things.

I was recommended this book by friends

3 people found this helpful.
 on March 13, 2017
By Megan Collier
I was recommended this book by friends, and my partner and I have just begun reading it together. It offers insightful and practical information, but is truly a workbook – there are numerous exercises and questionnaires to complete that offer understanding and build connection. A great tool that I’m looking forward to using.

Marriage is as complex as it is potentially rewarding. …

3 people found this helpful.
 on May 4, 2017
By Andrew Alexander
Marriage is as complex as it is potentially rewarding. Gottman serves up secret handshake after secret handshake and, with 67% of marriages ending in divorce before the 40th anniversary, it is no exaggeration to say that this book should be incorporated into the high school syllabus.

This book gives good common sense advice

 on March 27, 2018
By Julie
I love audio books and this one works well on my iPhone. To me, the author is saying that your basic friendship with your spouse will get you through the hard times and that you need to treat your spouse with the same courtesy that you treat other people. You need to focus on what you like about them. It gives good common sense.

An excellent first step!

 on January 22, 2014
By K Zander
Whether your marriage is sound and you’d like some relationship insurance or it’s floundering and you need some help- this book is an excellent first step. Dr. John Gottman and his wife Dr. Julie Gottman have invested 40 years in understanding what makes a relationship work as well as what can spell doom. If you are reading it because your relationship is in deep doo-doo, strongly consider finding a Gottman certified therapist in your area. They have a directory on their Gottman.com website. The exercises in the book are somewhat helpful but if you and your partner are in trouble, you are better off under the supervision of a professional. But read the book and for heaven’s sake keep the four horsemen out of your house because as I like to remind couples- horses leave BIG messes!

This is the best relationship books I’ve ever encountered

 on June 5, 2015
By NatashaNJohns
This is the best relationship books I’ve ever encountered. It helped me see how my relationship was getting into a really negative pattern. The concept of the four horsemen was extremely helpful as I realized I was exhibiting some nasty behaviors that needed to stop. I also learned about how important it is to have “repair attempts” in an argument to deescalate the argument. The book also has chapters on building a sense of love/affect/admiration for your partner. This book can save your relationship.

Really useful

 on January 24, 2013
By Ravenlyn
I’m already using the principles with my clients–he puts into words what I’ve known intuitively, and I appreciate knowing he has the science to back him up. It’s his science, and he’s really, really proud of himself, and that stylistic bit is a little annoying, reminiscent of a carnival barker at times. But he gets over it after the first few chapters. I think I will recommend to my clients that they listen to it on audiobook together in the car, and then get the workbooks to do the exercises together, just in terms of format. But even if you don’t do that, it’s a good amount of really useful information in an accessible format. And if you’re a psychologist, you can get 10 CEU’s for reading it and taking the test–go to the Gottman site to see how. That’s a lot of CEU’s for not much money.