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What makes marriage work?

According to John Gottman, “What can make a marriage work is surprisingly simple.  Happily married couples aren’t smarter, richer, or more psychologically astute than others.  But in their day-to-day lives, they have hit upon a dynamic that keeps their negative thoughts and feelings about each other (which all couples have) from overwhelming their positive ones.”

What makes marriage work?

Learn More About The Gottman Method

The Gottman Method has transformed the way therapists approach couples within the therapeutic relationship.  Simply stated, it  includes research-based strategies that focus on what makes marriages succeed versus what makes marriages fail.

Gottman’s couples’ therapy is based on three goals: 1) reduce negative feelings and escalation during conflict, 2) increase positive feelings in conflict, and 3) increase positive feelings outside of conflict.  To accomplish these goals in relationships, Gottman proposes using The Sound Relationship House which is composed of 9 principles.

                    1. Build Love Maps
                    2. Share Fondness & Admiration
                    3. Turn Towards
                    4. The Positive Perspective
                    5. Manage Conflict
                    6. Make Life Dreams
                    7. Create Shared Meaning
                    8. Trust
                    9. Commitment

Over the next several weeks, I will break down each of these 9 components  for a better understanding of what is needed to make a marriage work.  Ultimately Gottman’s Couples Therapy seeks to strengthen the friendship between couples, help them learn to resolve solvable problems, and grow in intimacy.  To learn more, please visit

Resources:  PhD, G. J., & Silver, N. (2015). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert (Revised ed.). Harmony.

Alison was a graduate student at NC State University in the Clinical Counseling Program.

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