♥LOVE NOTE – Saturday August 6, 2011
Today I would like to introduce you to Professor John Gottman who is the
Executive Director of the Relationship Research Institute in Seattle, Washington that was created to foster research on marriage, couples, parenting and families. Dr Gottman has gained international repute as a researcher who KNOWS what makes marriage last and what makes it fall apart. Yes KNOWS!! He is the author of many best-selling popular books on Marriage and Parenting – see www.gottman.com.
His books include:
The Relationship Cure;
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work;
Why Marriages Succeed Or Fail and How You Can Make Yours Last;
The Heart of Parenting – Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child;
Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage
Dr. John Gottman has studied what he calls the “masters and disasters” of marriage in his work at what the media has termed “The Love Lab” at the University of Washington where ordinary people from the general public took part in long-term studies. Applying strict scientific rigour his team videotaped married couples as they went about a lazy day “at home” in the “love lab” and monitored physiological signs like heart rate and blood pressure as the couple discussed areas of conflict.
By toting up the “positive” and “negative” interactions, checking “repair attempts” during fights, watching for incidents of contemptuous behavior, etc, Gottman is able to predict which couples will make it, and which will not with a more than 90% accuracy!!! In fact it is possible for them to predict which newlywed couples will divorce from the way partners interact in just the first three minutes of a discussion. Pretty stunning, hey! They examine among other things partners’ heart rates, facial expressions, and how they talk about their relationship to each other and to other people.
Pretty confronting maybe to think of being observed as you go about your daily interactions with your loved one(s). Particularly when it is including physiological data which is usually beyond our conscious monitoring. What is noteworthy about Gottman’s work is he didn’t just make up a theory – he observed and studied couples and his books and workshops are based on what he recorded works and what doesn’t.
So, what advice does Dr. Gottman have to offer? He has a number of suggestions for how to keep your marriage/relationships strong and I thought I would share some of his top ones. I’ll mention some each day over the next few days….
Gottman’s Marriage/Relationship Tips:
1. Seek help early. The average couple waits SIX YEARS before seeking help for marital problems once a problem is recognized and keep in mind, half of all marriages that end do so in the first seven years. And only 1% of couples seek help.
2. Edit yourself. Couples who avoid saying every angry thought when discussing touchy topics are consistently the happiest.
Gottman says there are TWO major times when marriages fail and couples divorce:
a) in the first seven years because of the presence of what he calls the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” –
criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling – that is disengaging and withdrawing, and
b) between 16 and 20 years because of the general absence of positive loving emotions.
(“The Four Horsemen” need a full discussion that focuses on them alone, as these are the strongest destroyers of marriages)
I often mention the importance of doing something different if you want different results. I invite and encourage you to have a go at doing something different from these Tips that Gottman’s research has categorically proven have the potential to transform your relationships. It’s advisable to not wait until problems appear but rather be proactive and prepared.
What we do know is:
– Relationships require ♡TOOLS and Skills
– You can learn them
– You need to practice the ♡TOOLS and Skills daily as Practice makes p-r-o-g-r-e-s-s!
– Ideally this is best started prior to getting into marriage/committed relationship.
If you don’t , it is similar for example, to decide to participate in the Tour de France, (seeing that is popular at the moment) and you do the race without being taught the skills, with only having your normal average road bike and no crew and not having done any preparation or training!!
That’s a predictable formula for failure for sure!
NOTE: Gottman’s Tips are actually easily transferable to any type of relationship and that the questions and work suggested below can be applied in relation to a friend, your children, or in fact any relationship.
Questions for you:
Have you participated in marriage/relationship education?
If not, why not?
If yes, did you continue to practise and use the skills and ♡TOOLS?
Practice makes p-r-o-g-r-e-s-s!
I received a sad email today from a former participant in this work who says:
“…..After doing the workshop we had a fantastic two months following and had high hopes for our future. Then it all went bad again. My wife left with the children two weeks ago and we are separated and heading towards divorce. You said this would only work if we put in the effort and you were right because we didn’t. We let things creep back to the way they were and the inevitable happened. We implemented NONE of your methods or things we had promised. The same destructive behaviour continued.
Make sure you emphasise to your clients that they cannot walk out of the sessions expecting a “cancer cure” without putting in the hard yards after the workshop. I’ll vouch for that! What a futile waste and it makes me sick that we let our children down.
And what is heartbreaking and confusing right up until the day she left she still said she loved me……..”
Questions for you: What new growth does your relationship need? What negative and hurtful behaviours need to be removed and replaced and the damage repaired?
Small clue #1: if you don’t know what you need to change ask your partner in a curious and loving way.
Small clue #2: when you do ask and they give you their answer be receptive.
Be curious and ♥MIRROR them……
♡Do not ask your partner to tell you anything that you are not willing or able to hear.
♡Do not argue with what your partner says or it is highly unlikely in the future they will be:
1. forthcoming, and
2. honest with you.
With admiration that you are willing to hear and consider these ‘hard’ questions and goodonya for tackling them. Remember to proceed with kindness and care for yourself and ‘the other’.
Take gentle care exploring and much sweet ♡LOVE-ing, Susie.
“To be loved, be lovable.” ~ Ovine
For information about the WORKSHOPS Shelton and I teach on Relationships check out our Institute for Relationship Development WEBSITE