To use the words of Dr. John Gottman (founder of The Gottman Institute, with over 40 years of research into married couples) – Are you a “Relationship Master” or a “Relationship Disaster”?
Understanding the keys to a happy marriage could mean the difference between making or breaking your relationship with your significant other.
In this article, we explore the 7 secrets (also known as Principles) for a happy marriage revealed by Dr. Gottman himself (in collaboration with Nan Silver) in his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.
1. Enhance Your Love Maps
This principle is based on understanding your partner and their world, to help maintain intimacy and better prepare you both to deal with stressful events and conflict that may arise in your marriage. Gottman calls this having a “love map” of your partner.
Make Your Own Love Maps
Write down then discuss information about your partner including:
- Important people in your partner’s life (friends, potential friends, rivals/enemies)
- Recent important events in their life
- Upcoming events
- Current stresses / worries
- Hopes / dreams / aspirations
“Who am I” Self-Exploration Exercise
Write down then discuss:
- My triumphs and strivings
- My injuries and healing
- My emotional world
- My mission and legacy
- Who I want to become
2. Nurture Your Fondness and Admiration
This principle is based on working to increase, recall or unearth positive emotions about each other. The fondness and admiration aspects of your relationship are the antidote to contempt.
Start by Writing ‘I Appreciate…’
Then list 3 or more positive characteristics that you appreciate about your partner, along with a memory or specific example of each one, then share it with your partner.
“I appreciate that you always know how to cheer me up. The other day when I had a really hard day at work, you cooked dinner, put on a funny movie and let me vent to you about what was bothering me, this helped me and I felt so much better afterwards.”
Highlight the Positive History of Your Relationship, and What Brought You Together as a Couple
Reminiscing about the positive parts of your time together, and why you were drawn to each other is a great way to bring your focus back to you as a couple.