The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

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The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work
AuthorJohn Gottman
PublishedMarch 16, 1999

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is a 1999 book by John Gottman, which details seven principles for couples to improve their marriage. The book was based on Gottman's research in his Family Research Lab, known as the "Love Lab", where he observed more than 650 couples over 14 years.[1]


In The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Gottman argues that the basis for a happy marriage is a deep friendship with mutual respect and a positive attitude. He also emphasizes the importance of emotional intelligence in couples. In the course of the book, Gottman details seven principles for couples to follow in order to nurture their friendship and improve their marriage: enhancing their "love maps"; nurturing their fondness and admiration; turning toward each other instead of away; letting their spouse influence them; solving their solvable problems; overcoming gridlock; and creating a shared sense of meaning.


The book was released to generally favorable reviews.[2][3][4] It was a New York Times bestseller,[5] and was included in the U.S. Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program.[6] It has been included in numerous publications' lists of best relationship books.[7][8][9] A 2001 study noted the book aligned with feminist principles and research stating that shared power is essential for a successful marriage.[10]


Psychologist Milton Spett criticized Gottman's lack of scientific rigor in his claims of low relapse from his marital therapy: "Gottman makes these claims without reporting any of the standard techniques of outcome research: no control group, no random assignment to treatments, no blind assessment of outcome."[11] Therapist Robert F. Scuka argued against Gottman's criticism of the effectiveness of active listening based on the Munich Marital Therapy Study, saying, "Gottman cites only certain (one-sided) results from the study."[12]


  1. ^ "Review of The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work". Tom Butler Bowdon. Archived from the original on 2014-10-31.
  2. ^ Keyt, Andrew (Jun 2003). "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work". Family Business Review. 16.2: 151–152.
  3. ^ "Love Skills - Book Review". Retrieved 2020-09-23.
  4. ^ Pounda, Linda (July 2003). "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work". The Family Journal. 11 (3): 327–328. doi:10.1177/106648070301100319.
  5. ^ "Best Sellers Plus". The New York Times. 1999-09-05.
  6. ^ The Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program: Family skills component. Gottman, John M.; Gottman, Julie S.; Atkins, Christopher L. American Psychologist, Vol 66(1), Jan 2011, 52-57. doi: 10.1037/a0021706
  7. ^ Berger, Sara Stillman; Nicolaou, Elena (2020-05-26). "Every Couple Should Read These Marriage Books". Oprah Magazine. Retrieved 2020-09-23.
  8. ^ "15 Books All Couples Should Read, According To Marriage Therapists". HuffPost. 2019-08-23. Retrieved 2020-09-23.
  9. ^ Schneider, Katy (2019-02-13). "The 6 Best Books for a Healthy Relationship, According to Psychiatrists". The Strategist. Retrieved 2020-09-23.
  10. ^ Zimmerman, Toni Schindler; Holm, Kristen E.; Starrels, Marjorie E. (April 2001). "A feminist analysis of self-help bestsellers for improving relationships: a decade review". Journal of Marital & Family Therapy. 27 (2): 165–175.
  11. ^ Spett, Milton. "John Gottman Proposes Revolutionary New Form of Couple Therapy - or Does He?". NJ-ACT.
  12. ^ Scuka, Robert F. (28 May 2005). "The Munich Group Study". Relationship Enhancement Therapy.