RESOURCE: Seven Steps to Make Your Marriage Work - Gottman

couples counseling john gottman marriage counseling marriage retreat relationship advice seven principles for making marriage work May 17, 2024

We just finished our first marriage retreat. Nine couples. Four nights in Puerto Rico! Plus our dear friend and marriage therapist, Cheryl Wilder. She has over 30 years experience in this field and gave us some great resources we will be posting as blogs to help you grow YOUR marriage. Here's the first one. It is a step-by-step summary of John Gottman's book, Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. 

Read the key points below then purchase your copy of the book to go deeper:

  1. Enhance Your Love Maps
    - Make a conscious effort to know your partner’s inner world.
    - Regularly update your knowledge about your partner’s life, interests, and concerns.
    - Ask open-ended questions to deepen your understanding of each other.
  2. Nurture Your Fondness and Admiration
    - Focus on the positive qualities of your partner and the good times you’ve shared.
    - Express appreciation and gratitude regularly.
    - Share and reminisce about positive memories together.
  3. Turn Toward Each Other Instead of Away
    - Recognize your partner’s bids for attention, affection, and support.
    - Respond positively and engage with these bids.
    - Perform small acts of kindness and connection daily.
  4. Let Your Partner Influence You
    - Be open to your partner’s opinions and feelings.
    - Make decisions together, considering each other’s input.
    - Show respect and avoid power struggles by compromising and sharing responsibilities.
  5. Solve Your Solvable Problems
    - Identify problems that can be resolved.
    - Use soft start-ups to begin conversations about issues gently.
    - Make and accept repair attempts during conflicts.
    - Practice self-soothing to stay calm.
    - Compromise and find mutually acceptable solutions.
  6. Overcome Gridlock
    - Identify perpetual problems and understand their underlying causes.
    - Discuss each other’s dreams and aspirations that relate to the gridlocked issues.
    - Find ways to support each other’s dreams and integrate them into your relationship.
    - Move from gridlock to dialogue by being patient and understanding.
  7. Create Shared Meaning
    - Develop rituals of connection, such as regular date nights or family traditions.
    - Establish shared goals and values.
    - Support each other’s roles and dreams.
    - Build a sense of partnership by working towards common purposes and creating a life together that has meaning.

By following these steps, couples can strengthen their emotional connection and build a more resilient and fulfilling relationship.

JOHN GOTTMAN (, a leading research scientist on marriage and family, is emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Washington; executive director of his laboratory, the Relationship Research Institute; and cofounder of the Gottman Institute. He held an NIMH research scientist career award for twenty years. Dr. Gottman is the author of more than two hundred professional journal articles and forty-two books, as well as the recipient of numerous prestigious awards for his extensive contributions to marriage and family research.