John Gottman’s five rules for saving a marriage

by Mariangela Celiberti - 2016.03.18
John Gottman’s five rules for saving a marriage
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“Marriage is the tomb of love.” Everyone will have heard this said at some point in their lives – perhaps even when announcing their wedding. But is it really true? At first glance it would seem so, seeing as these days, it's common everywhere (for Italy just look at Istat's latest figures) for people to marry less and separate more. And yet, having a long and happy relationship is still possible, at least according to John Gottman, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Washington and the founder of Love Lab. After 27 years of meeting, observing and studying – even from a physical perspective – thousands of couples, he has drawn up five secret rules to save a relationship.

Rule #1: nurture respect and tenderness. To avoid contempt, an unwanted guest that doesn't easily leave, you need to understand your partner, pay attention to small details, expressing the desire to know their world.

Rule #2: get closer and find time for small, even trivial, shared habits that make each relationship unique.

Rule #3: consider your partner's point of view and let yourself be influenced. Feeling ignored and excluded, rather than loved, cements resentment.

Rule #4: be clear, polite and diplomatic, avoiding judgements so that reproaches do not accumulate.

Rule #5: don't let an unresolved issue become a chronic problem and share their own, personal 'couple's philosophy'. Sincerity and truth are the keywords.

Always remember that time is valuable, especially when it comes to love. To heal a relationship, you need to find at least five 'magical' hours a day. You need 10 minutes in the morning to say hello, 35 minutes for cuddling and 35 more to express admiration and affection. Then there's one hour and 40 minutes for telling each other how your day went and no less than two hours just to spend as a couple. This is the way, according to Gottman, to avoid a painful divorce while also saving that wedding gift of dinner plates from an aunt.

Published in Families in numbers.
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