If you have been reading my blog, then you know that a friend of mine recently recommended the book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman, Ph.D. She is taking a pre-engagement class at her church with her boyfriend and fully endorsed this text as a tool to make my relationship stronger. I talked it over with Dave and he was enthusiastic about reading this book together. He also gave the go-ahead to write about our experience going through this book as a couple.
I ordered two copies of the book right away. It took an agonizing 11 days to arrive, but it is finally here! I am very excited about this new project, especially to help anyone else that is looking for relationship methods that actually work. My intention is not to read the book and give my feedback, but to give my feedback as I am reading the book. Readers will get a real-time play-by-play of how I confront past beliefs and issues, present problems that we may not even be aware of, and building an exciting future!
Any part of the book I am directly quoting will be in quotation marks. Otherwise I am paraphrasing Dr. Gottman’s ideas and research. This is in no way intended to rip off the credited foremost relationship expert in the country. It is merely my hope to reach out to others in an effort to help. In the first paragraph, I provided the link to purchase the book yourself, which is only $15. You can also get a used copy on Amazon. I recommend that you purchase this book and follow along. Leave your thoughts in the comments!
FOR THE SKEPTIC:
I’m not one for self-help books. I am wary of statistics, despite the fact that I am in a statistics math course. I decline any tip or trick that claims to be a cure-all or the next trendy thing, including the newest diet or the newest fabric that all the celebrities are wearing. If you fall into this category, please consider the following:
John Gottman is a Ph.D. and a professor of psychology at the University of Washington. His book is a New York Times best-seller and he is critically acclaimed. He has “revolutionized the study of marriage by using rigorous scientific procedures to observe the habits of married couples in unprecedented detail over many years.” His research is impeccable and he has an average 91% accuracy rate of predicting divorce in couples.
The Seven Principles are NOT guidelines created by Dr. Gottman. Instead, he observed the same pattern of behavior in happy marriages again and again. All happy marriages, and happy couples, did these seven things – whether they knew it or not. Dr. Gottman is merely providing his audience with the data from his research. These are not conclusions or opinions, these are observations. In addition, of the couples that participated in his studies (roughly 650): 27% were at a high risk for divorce at the time of the study; three months after the study only 7% were at risk for divorce; nine months after the study 0% were at risk for divorce. Even better – happy couples that actively used these seven principles report an even happier relationship.
BUT KYRSTON, YOU AREN’T EVEN MARRIED. OR ENGAGED. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?
Well, that’s an easy answer. Everyone who gets married has to start somewhere. It usually starts with “hello”. From there, relationships can flourish or flop, but one thing remains true: a foundation has to be built. I would prefer not to start building that foundation on Day 1 as Mrs. Dave, if and when we get there. We have agreed that we love each other and want our relationship to flourish. We already log hours of discussion about who we are and who we are to one another. This is just another way to continue down that path. Perhaps this will create a stronger and more harmonious connection between the two of us, or maybe it will illustrate differences that make us realize we are not as compatible as we thought. No matter what, we are doing this because we want to be happy long-term, with each other.
SO… WHO ARE YOU? AND WHO IS THIS DAVE GUY?
I am Kyrston and I’m twenty-four. I grew up for the first half of my life in the Midwest, and the second half of my life in New England (where I currently reside). I am divorced and a college student pursuing a liberal arts degree with a concentration in… something. Dave is twenty-eight. He was born and raised in New England. He is a licensed massage therapist and has a bachelor’s degree in Music Education with a focus on Vocal Performance. We are similar in many ways, but different in others. So far our relationship has been mutually respecting, kind, and passionate. We are moving in together, have been a couple for eight months, and we are excited about our future!
HOW LONG WILL THIS PROJECT TAKE?
Well, you know, that’s a good question. I have a considerable amount of free time whereas Dave has limited free time. Most of his free time is spent showering me with love and affection. I’m not the type of woman to make a man read a book, so I suppose it will progress in a natural way. I’d like to wait until he reads so we can talk about it and I can give feedback on our behalf, as opposed to a one-sided approach. It’s important to me that there be a balanced representation of what is being said. To make it even more fun, Dave and I fit the gender stereotypes pretty perfectly. I am an emotional woman in my twenties who always feels like there’s something I have to do better, and he is a free-spirit type of man who keeps complications to a minimum by maintaining a positive attitude and easily letting things go that he can’t control. I guess we’ll see how it all shakes out. Probably a few months.
Hopefully you will join me on this journey and it will bring you some peace in your relationships. As I am reading, it occurs to me that many of these methods can use used on an individual basis. We all have an internal dialogue – a dark side to our lighter side – and much of this advice can be used internally to create a more peaceful space within our minds. I can’t wait to see how this revolutionizes my relationship – and my life.