The Sound Marital House
John Gottman, Ph.D

Love Maps - the ground floor

Knowing one another and feeling known.
Know what their concerns are, who the cast of characters in their life are, what their aspirations are
Know their eye color, favorite foods and places, what they did last weekend, what their day at work was like, etc.

These maps need to be updated!  As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to sit down and check in with your mate and ask how things are going and how they feel about life and you and everything.  This is done naturally and often.


Fondness and admiration system

Remember how they met and all the details.
Can say what they love about their partner and have that comfortable spark
This is the antidote for contempt.  You can’t have contempt and have fondness and admiration.
Need to praise one another every now and for no reason.


Turning Toward vs. Turning Away

In everyday life, partners constantly make bids for attention and connection.  These happen ALL THE TIME!

Do we need coffee?  Look at that ____.  Isn’t that interesting.  Do you like this?  Doing something annoying.
Hmmmmm. . . .  Wow.    Isn’t that something.  A sigh.  A far away gaze.  Leaving something out.

Probability that a bid will be re-submitted is virtually 0%.

Very subtle and almost always automatic in generation and response.

Just a small comment asking for an opinion or a comment - not big things at all.

Turning toward and engaging needs to be automatic because the bids rarely register in our consciousness as anything of note.  Hard to train for this as you can’t be that mentally vigilant.  It’s being in synch with each other.  It’s habit.  It’s subconscious.

These bids are crucial and how the other deals with them is an excellent predictor.

70% of quality of sex life can be predicted based on how well and often bids are responded to.

Romantic gestures alone often don’t work well without these three foundations.

These are the fuel for romance.  Unhappy couples miss 50% of the good things that happen.


Positive Perspective

Can’t have a chip on your shoulder.  Some people are hyper-vigilant for slights and cut downs.
Something can be said very neutrally and it can be interpreted wrong.  Intentions aren’t conveyed/perceived well.  Bad news.
Good relationships are characterized by, almost always, automatically giving each other the benefit of the doubt.


Problem Sets / Accept Influence

Myth - through fighting clean, you can achieve intimacy.  There will be conflict, but it shouldn’t be a fight.


When disagreements and fights occur, 69% of the time couples are talking about the same stuff / problems over and over again their whole lives with each other.  If they’re truly fighting about it, then they will likely end up in divorce. 

These 69% issues aren’t going to get solved - sorry.  31% of the problems will get solved.


Remember, that this isn’t the universe, just the problems that come up.  The universe of positive stuff is huge in comparison.  For example, you love 80% plus about your mate, and you have to deal with the other 20%.  That other 20% can then be divided up into the 69% (or 14%) that will remain and the 31% (or 6%) that can be worked out.

When you are together with someone, the two of you are going to have a unique problem set.  If you’re with Jane, lateness and cleanliness is an issue, but with Jennifer it’s the driving and spending habits.

 The problem sets don’t go away; they are like unwelcome friends.


In couples that divorce, the discussion of these issues is painful and hurtful.  For those that stay married, they’re not happy about the problems, but they learn to live with them and be happy anyway.  They play with it.

For the 31% that can be resolved, it’s a slippery slope that requires a high emotional intelligence.

Need to be approached softly and gently.  It’s a high art and it takes time and mental clarity


Not, “You’re never there for me any more!”  Instead, “Hon, I love you and need to be with you more.  It was so nice when we were able to cuddle and be together last week for a while.  How can we get more time like that together?”

Accepting influence is another key point.  Women usually do this well.

Requests are made and an attitude that we can work it out or compromise needs to be adopted. “Good point”  “Maybe you’re right”  “Let me think about that”  “Let’s compromise”  If a person (or both) think that it really isn’t their problem (it’s the other person’s issue really), then the boat has been missed completely.  It’s bad news when one person thinks, “I haven’t had this problem in other relationships, so it’s their fault and they need to fix it.”  In order to be influential, one needs to be influenced.  Brick walls aren’t very influential.  People just go around or walk away from brick walls.


Honoring the Dreams

When people have unresolvable issues, there is usually a dream or aspiration or need there.
Within the fist, if you can delicately pry it open, is the dream waiting to be discovered and fly out.
First, a super person needs to get the fist to open up and do it lovingly.

When it’s open and the feeling/dream/aspiration/need is revealed, the dream needs to be honored.  Both people’s dreams need to be honored.  Compromise.  Better to learn as many of these things as possible before marriage as dreams can be orthogonal to each other.  In other words, the dreams need to be compatible.