The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work Book Summary - The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work Book explained in key points
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The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work summary

John M. Gottman and Nan Silver

A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert

4.3 (291 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is a self-help book that offers practical advice for building strong and lasting relationships. Written by John Gottman and Nan Silver, it provides effective strategies for couples who want to improve their relationships and maintain a healthy, happy marriage.

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    The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work
    Summary of 9 key ideas

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    Principle One: Functioning couples have a richly detailed love map.

    If you have a husband or wife, you’ll likely be wise to plenty of special, private or sensitive information about them. But did you know this information is actually stored in our minds in a love map?

    The more developed your love map, the stronger your love.

    In several recorded cases of divorce, partners weren’t actually that familiar with each other; they didn’t dedicate enough space in their brain for the marriage. With no love map, you can’t fully know your partner, and without really knowing your partner, how can you truly love them?

    Take the example of Rory, a pediatrician who ran an intensive care unit for babies. Being a workaholic, he often slept at the hospital overnight. At work he got along well, but his homelife was a different story. He didn’t know the family dog’s name or where his house’s back door was. In fact, he had become so tangled up in work that his emotional connection to his wife and children had deteriorated. His love map left a lot to be desired.

    It’s important to be aware of your love map because it contains your own and your partner’s aspirations and life philosophies. But it can change. Having a baby can radically alter a woman’s life purpose or direction, and thus change her love map.

    Take Maggie and Ken, who had been together only a little while before they chose to marry and start a family. They were aware of each others’ beliefs, hopes and fears; Ken understood that Maggie was dedicated to her career as a computer scientist. However, when Maggie gave birth to her daughter, she put her career aside in order to stay home and look after the baby. Ken saw that his wife had changed.

    This is not unusual; becoming a parent changes your values and identity. Maggie’s love map had changed to fit her new priorities, and Ken had to realign his own love map accordingly.

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    What is The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work about?

    The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (1999) draws on data from relationship studies and interviews to do exactly what it promises in its title. These blinks take you through the key changes you can make to overcome the common problems that damage relationships and build a supportive, romantic marriage.

    Best quote from The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

    The more you can imbue your relationship with the spirit of thanksgiving and the graceful presence of praise, the more meaningful and fulfilling your lives together will be.

    —John M. Gottman and Nan Silver
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    Who should read The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work?

    • Couples who want to get the best out of their romantic relationship
    • Newlyweds who want a harmonious, long-lasting marriage
    • Anyone going through or considering divorce

    About the Author

    John M. Gottman is a psychology professor at the University of Washington and co-founder and co-director of the Seattle Marital and Family Institute. His research into romantic couples has spanned 40 years and he has earned several prestigious academic awards for his work.

    Nan Silver is a blogger, journalist and a New York Times-bestselling author. She has also been editor-in-chief of Health and a contributing editor at Parents magazine.

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