I first heard about the Gottmans while listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink. Gladwell described them as relationship experts who after briefly listening to a couple argue could predict whether they would be together or not in seven years with 90% accuracy! That got my attention. It turns out that there are four “horsemen” that the Gottmans look for: criticism, stonewalling, defensiveness, and contempt. If one of these behaviors shows up in an argument (especially contempt), your relationship is unlikely to have a happy future.
Ten Lessons is the Gottman’s positive take on their negative research: what can couples do to enhance their relationship and dismount the four horsemen? What makes this book so engaging is that the ten lessons are ten different scenarios that regularly come up in many relationships and are explored through verbatim conversations with real-life couples. These ten lessons range from addiction to work and healing form an affair to lack of passion and nagging. Anyone deal with those issues in their marriage?
In each chapter the Gottmans introduce you to a new couple and their argument. The verbatims are like sitting in on a real-life counseling session. You hear how the couples discuss and argue. Then the Gottmans do some teaching and training on how to have the conversation in a different way with tips like, “How to complain without criticizing,” and then the couples give the conflict another go around. It is fascinating to see how a conflict that had deep ruts built over years and years of arguing can actually change course.
I liked this book and the Gottman’s take on marriage so much that Sarah and I have decided to use their home-retreat package for a personal home workshop on our fifteenth anniversary. The box, which arrived in the mail last week, comes with DVDs, two workbooks, and several cards for exercises. We’ve scheduled a two-day two-night getaway at an historic inn that also has a DVD player and comfy chairs in the room. Given that Sarah and I have made it to fifteen years, I don’t think we’re in any danger of failing the Gottman’s seven-year prediction test, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t still have things to learn about loving one another better. If Ten Lessons is any indication of what we’re in for, then our commitment, connection, and love for one another will learn even more lessons over this marriage getaway.Share on Facebook