Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Making Relationships Work - Marriage

Making Relationships Work.
By: Coutu, Diane,
Harvard Business Review,
Dec 2007, Vol. 85, Issue 12

A Conversation with Psychologist John M. Gottman

The best science we have on relationships comes from the most intense relationship of all - marriage. Here's what we know about it.

Few people can tell us more about how to maintain good personal relationships than John M. Gottman, the executive director of the Relationship Research Institute. At the institute's Family Research Laboratory - known as the Love Lab - Gottman has been studying marriage and divorce for the past 35 years.

Successful couples, he notes, look for ways to accentuate the positive. They try to say "yes" as often as possible.

It sounds simple, but in fact you could capture all of my research findings with the metaphor of a saltshaker. Instead of filling it with salt, fill it with all the ways you can say yes, and that's what a good relationship is. "Yes," you say, "that is a good idea." "Yes, that's a great point, I never thought of that." "Yes, let's do that if you think it's important." You sprinkle yeses throughout your interactions - that's what a good relationship is.

I want to stress that good relationships are not just about knowing when to fight and how to patch things up. We also need humor, affection, playing, silliness, exploration, adventure, lust, touching - all those positive emotional things that we share with all mammals. Something that's been so hard for me to convey to the media is that trivial moments provide opportunities for profound connection.

I think that men need to learn how to embrace their wives' anger.

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