7 Principles for Making Marriage Work: Part 3

To continue this series, we will discuss the 5 & 6 principles from “The 7 Principles of Making Marriage Work” book by Dr. John M. Gottman.

5. Solve your Solvable Problems:

According to Dr. John Gottman, marital conflict fall in two different categories: solvable and perpetual. Solvable problems are less difficult and intense to solve. Perpetual problems are problems that come up in marriage over and over again. Some perpetual problems may never leave your marriage, just because of differing personalities. Gottman recommends 6 steps to solving solvable problems.

  1. Identify solvable problems: This is an important step! First, you need to find out if the problem is perpetual or not. Perpetual problems tend to be deeper problems within a marriage. Some characteristics of perpetual problems are: you become easily frustrated or hurt, you turn away from each other emotionally, you aren’t willing to change your position, and the conversations lack affection. If the problem is not intense or painful, it most likely is a solvable problem.
  2. Soften your startup: Don’t begin a conversation with an argument. If you start a conversation with harsh verbal attacks, the conversation will end badly. When you have a softened startup, the outcome of the conversation is more likely to have a better outcome.
  3. Make & receive repair attempts: Repair attempts are actions done to try to cool down an argument. If your spouse asks to “discuss this later” or says “that hurt my feelings” those are repair attempts. Repair attempts decrease tension and negativity. Making and receiving repair attempts can help solve problems.
  4. Soothe yourself and each other: Don’t let an argument get too heated. If you need to take a break, do it! Heated arguments can get really stressful, and cause you to say things you don’t mean. Taking breaks will help the discussion become more calm and relaxed.
  5. Compromise: Compromising is the way to solve marital problems. Find a solution that satisfies both you and your spouse. Be open to each other’s point of views, and find common ground. Be open-minded!
  6. Accept each other: No one is perfect, not you or your spouse. Be tolerant of each other’s faults. Don’t criticize your partner.

6. Overcome Gridlock:

It’s important for couples to incorporate each other’s dreams into their marriage! Honor and respect each other’s dreams and goals.

In an article, Ellie Lisitsa stated the following about overcoming gridlock…”According to Dr. Gottman, “Acknowledging and respecting each other’s deepest, most personal hopes and dreams is the key to saving and enriching your marriage.” We have found in our research that almost all gridlocked conflicts stem from unfulfilled dreams!”

To do this, open communication is crucial. You have to be honest to your spouse about your dreams and aspirations, or they won’t be able to honor and encourage them.

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