The Gottmans’ New Book Tries To Fix Your Marriage In 7 Days
The Gottmans tend to make sweeping, authoritative statements: they claim, for example, that 69% of relationship problems are never resolved. Or that there are four communication styles that can predict the end of a relationship (criticism, contempt, defensiveness and blocking). These types of claims might seem out of place at a research conference, Dr. Whitton said, but she admires the Gottmans’ ability to make their findings accessible to people looking for practical advice.
“I personally use their approaches all the time, not just as a therapist but as a couples person,” said Rafaella Smith-Fiallo, a licensed clinical social worker and sex and couples therapist in St. Louis, Missouri. , who trained in the Gottman method. “I find them very practical and direct.”
The couple are, in many ways, their own best case study, providing a realistic example of what a thriving, long-term relationship looks like. During a difficult time early in their marriage, they saw a couples therapist for a few sessions, but the counselor clearly preferred John, he said. (“I thought she was a great therapist!” John recalls with a smile.) So they stopped going and instead turned to their research for advice.
“We have a conflict. We have fights. There are times when we don’t like each other very much,” John said. “But we use these tools, and over time they have really become second nature.”
They look up to each other “all the time,” Julie said. When John reads his Kindle and shares something out loud, Julie stops to listen. If she asks him to clean something in the house, he says of course. And they are affectionate. During our video interview from their home in Portland, Oregon, where they spend time bonding with their daughter, son-in-law and 8-month-old grandson, Julie gently touched John’s shoulder at least five times.
Like many relationship experts, the Gottmans recommend that couples date regularly — it’s a non-negotiable part of their own marriage.
“When we were younger and didn’t have a lot of money, we’d go to a nice hotel in Seattle that had a fantastic lobby with a big stone fireplace and nice plush sofas. We would claim one and pretend we were guests,” Julie said. “We would order a drink of something and we would talk for hours, just asking each other big open questions. We were asking, ‘Is there anything more I can do to show you how much I love you?’