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John Gottman

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John Gottman, (* 1942) Ph.D. is known for his work on marital stability and relationship analysis through scientific direct observations published in peer-reviewed literature. The lessons learned from this work represent a partial basis for the relationship counseling movement which aim to improve relationship functioning and the avoidance of those behaviors shown by Gottman and other researchers to deteriorate human relationships.[1] Dr. Gottman is a Professor Emeritus of psychology at the University of Washington, and with his wife Dr. Julie Gottman now heads a non-profit research institute.[2]

Dr. Gottman found his methodology predicts with 90% accuracy which newlywed couples will remain married and which will divorce four to six years later. It is also 81% percent accurate in predicting which marriages will survive after seven to nine years.[3] Dr. Gottman's prediction method, which relies on Paul Ekman's method of analyzing human emotion and microexpressions, is also featured in the book Blink and the television series The Human Face.

John Gottman was born in the Dominican Republic to Orthodox Jewish parents. His father was a rabbi in pre-WWII Vienna. John was educated in a Lubavitch yeshiva elementary school in Brooklyn, and currently identifies with Conservative Judaism.

Contempt and marriage

In the book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking author Malcolm Gladwell discusses John Gottman's theories of how to predict which couples will stay married. Part of Gottman's theory states that there are four major emotional reactions that are destructive to a marriage: defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism, and contempt. Among these four, Gottman considers contempt the most important of them all. [4]

Books

In his book, "The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work,” Gottman discusses behaviors that he has observed in marriages that are successful and those that are detrimental to marriage based on his research conducted at his love lab in Seattle, Washington. He has outlined seven principles that will reinforce the positive aspects of a relationship and help marriages endure during the rough moments.

  1. Enhance Your Love Maps. Gottman defines a love map as the place in your brain where you store information pertaining to your partner. This is crucial in really knowing your partner, their dreams, hopes, interests, and maintaining their interest throughout the relationship.
  2. Nurture Your Fondness and Admiration. This means laying down a positive view about your spouse, respecting and appreciating their differences.
  3. Turn Toward Each Other Instead of Away. Acknowledging your partner's small moments in life and orienting yourself towards them will maintain that necessary connection that is vital for the relationship.
  4. Let Your Partner Influence You. It is important to maintain your own identity in a relationship, but it is equally important to yield to your partner and give in. If both partners allow one another this influence, then they will learn to respect one another on a deeper level.
  5. Solve Your Solvable Problems. It is important to compromise on issues that can be resolved, which Gottman believes can be accomplished by these five steps: soften your startup, learn to make and receive repair attempts, soothe yourself and each other, compromise, and be tolerant of each other’s faults.
  6. Overcome Gridlock. Major issues that cannot be resolved because both partners’ views are so fundamentally different involves understanding of the other person and deep communication. The goal is to at least get to a position that allows the other person to empathize with the partner's view, even if a compromise cannot be reached.
  7. Create Shared Meaning. Create a shared value system that continually connects the partners through rituals/traditions, shared roles and symbols.

[5]

References

  1. The Gottman Institute. Online Abstracts of Published Research Articles. Accessed online 14 October 2008.
  2. John Gottman. John Gottman, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist. Accessed online 14 October 2008.
  3. Gottman, John (2003). The Mathematics of Marriage. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0262072267. http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=8757. 
  4. Gladwell, Malcolm (copyright 2005). Blink. Back Bay Books imprint (Little, Brown and Company). pp. 32–33. ISBN 0-316-01066-9. http://www.gladwell.com/blink/. 
  5. Gottman, John (copyright 1999). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. Crown Publishers imprint (Three Rivers Press). ISBN 0-609-80579-7. 

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