Gottman’s 7 Principles To Make A Marriage Work In Therapy

Make A Marriage Work In Therapy
John Gottman’s method is designed to support couples across all racial, economic and sexual orientations.

Gottman’s 7 Principles are based on John Gottman’s over 40 years of work on relationship counselling, including an extensive observation of over 3000 couples over the years in the relationship love lab. John found what he later named the “Masters and Disasters of Relationships.” Using extensive observations John was able to look at what worked in counselling and what was pointless to look at, essentially distilling his findings down to 7 principles.

Gottman's 7 Principles To Make A Marriage Work In Therapy

1. Share Love Maps

Love maps can be described as being included in the network of our brain which stores relevant relationship information about our partner. It will include things like their hopes, dreams, preferences, traumas etc. Usually, it is the information a couple will gather when dating or courting a partner.

Gottman and many counsellors rightly believe that being intimately familiar with each other’s view of the world is one of the foundational steps in developing friendship and will enhance other areas of the relationship.

2. Nurture Your Fondness & Admiration

A successful marriage or relationship is based on friendship. Gottman believed that fondness and admiration were two of the most crucial elements in a long-lasting relationship. Fondness and admiration are when you not only admire your partner but can express that through gestures and verbalize it on a frequent basis which you work at filling their emotional bank account.

3. Turn Towards Each Other Instead of Away

In a marriage, for instance, each partner is making a bid for attention, affection, support and humour. An individual whose part of the relationship can either turn towards the bids or away from them. Turning towards them is a way to connect emotionally, often it entails romance, passion and sex.

Turning towards is important because it helps establish “the Emotional Bank Account.” which stores a lot of that goodwill for a rainy day.

4. Let Your Partner Influence You

You have a degree of influence in the relationship, but it is also essential to be willing to be influenced, consequently sharing power. Gottman’s research showed that if a man isn’t willing to share power, there is a very high probability the marriage will not last.

5. Solve Your Solvable Problems

69% of conflict is perpetual, that is, it is going to continue throughout your relationship. All couples have issues and the difference between the masters and disasters of relationships is how those problems are managed.

There are two main types of issues, solvable and perpetual. Solvable issues can be solved using the six skills of managing conflict in the presence of a marriage or relationship counsellor.

6. Overcoming Gridlock

The second type of problem is those that are gridlocked. It is an issue that the couple will often argue about multiple times and hurt each other in the process while it takes them nowhere.

The only way to end the gridlock is to, instead of solving the problem, move away from the gridlock to having a dialogue. Eventually, the couple will have to learn to live with the problem. It is not about getting the other person to change their perspective, it is more about dialoguing about the issue and understanding one another.

7. Create Shared Meaning

According to Gottman, we are all philosophers seeking meaning in relationships and life. In other words, Gottman advocates that a relationship should have a spiritual dimension that is meant to create inner life together. It is often symbols, rituals and beliefs that link you, leading you to understand the meaning of being part of a family 

An example of this could simply be having what is called a ritual of connecting with one another each day in a way that is meaningful to both of you.


John Gottman’s method is designed to support couples across all racial, economic and sexual orientations.

Using the principles of the Gottman Method in Couples therapy can help give a couple of tangible tools to become masters in relationships.

In the next post, we go over using John Gottman’s method for “Dealing with High Conflict and Repairing A Relationship.”


All credit for these principles is given to:

Gottman, J. (2000). The seven principles for making marriage work. Orion.

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Geordy Murphy

MA Registered Provisional Psychologist

Registered Provisional Psychologist. EMDR and Gottman training. I work with individuals, and couples.