Will My Marriage Last? Insights from John Gottman (Episode 113)
In this episode, we cover John Gottman's "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" - the surefire ways to break a relationship down. Plus, the consistent steps that keep a relationship healthy.
We have had our share of ups and downs, and this week, in the midst of a move, we know very well the potential tensions that can rise up in a relationship.
In this episode and post below, we'll lay out insights from John Gottman as well as our own on how to keep your relationship thriving.
Who is John Gottman?
John Gottman is a relationships expert. As a psychological researcher and clinician for over four decades, he has done some impressive work on divorce prediction and marital stability. He's a speaker, author, and a professor emeritus in psychology.
The Gottman Institute is a research-based approach to marriage and how to make it last.
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Where are we this week?
Oh my goodness....we've upgraded to Eagle status! Here is the first glimpse of our new tiny home - we haven't announced it anywhere since I'm about a month behind on social media posts.
So for those of you who see these notes, you're the first to see our new baby...can you guess what we named it?
Follow us on our journey on Insta as the FieldTripGypsies!
The Positive Comment Ratio
John Gottman states that you need a ratio of 5 to 1 positive comments to survive. In happy couples, this ratio escalates to 20 to 1. Twenty positive comments for every negative one you do!
It may sound extreme. And the pressure of coming up with 20 positive comments may be a bit more daunting to you. So use Nathan's approach. Instead of focusing on every positive thing, really think through the negative comments. Ask yourself:
- Is this necessary to say?
- What is my goal?
- What good will come of me stating this?
Can you "even the playing field" a bit with looking for the positive for any negative thought that comes through?
We've talked before how so often in intimate relationships, opposites attract. This can be an amazing thing, and it can also create some major conflict. Being super clear on your family vision - your unified "why" - this is so, so critical.
When you can come together with a clear goal...to love, to connect, to enrich...then when you go the opposite way, at least one person can redirect back to the family vision.
So when negativity starts to take over, this yin and yang balance can move in to take you back to center.
When your intentions and goals are pointed in the same direction, you can manage the madness that comes along the way.
Some additional resources for you
- Feeling completely overwhelmed and stressed out?
- Opposites Attract…And How To Live With Them (Episode 86)
- My Marriage Sucks (Episode 66)
- How Do You Navigate Gender Roles In Marriage? (Episode 56)
- Welcome to the Fight Club – Choose Wisely (Episode 34)
- It’s Not A Habit; It’s Intimacy (Episode 25)
- What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate! (Episode 8)
- Fighting Toward a Win-Win (Episode 9)
- Growability and a Big Dose of Humble Pie (Episode 10)
- Relationships: How Do You Play That Game? (Episode 11)
- On Getting Lost, Laughter, and the Wisdom of Dr. Dre (Episode 12)
- Who Has Time For Sex As A Parent, Anyway? (Episode 14)
- What Do You Want This Life To Be? (Episode 16)
- 3 Secrets for A Long-Lasting Marriage
- 37 Essential Tips To Save Your Marriage
- Romance May Be A Hue, But Desire Is The Sunshine
- Lighten Up With The One You Love – Get Out And Play!
- Pride Goeth Before A Fall – Can Your Marriage Hold Up?
- Love And Marriage – See The Good
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
John Gottman has dubbed these the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They are:
While most relationships will have some of these at some point in time, healthy relationships don't use them nearly as often and do more to repair them when they are used.
Contempt is the biggest marriage killer.
The eye roll is the universal sign of contempt and superiority. Remember your why again - what is your goal? What good does this bring?
Ask yourself these questions -
- What is my goal?
- What do I hope to accomplish by saying this?
- Is this really necessary to say?
- How am I saying it?
- And...don't be a jerk.
We can be so harsh to the ones we love the most. Pay attention to your tone of voice. Are you simply criticizing, or offering a solution and/or support? Are you lifting one another up, or stepping on each other in your hope to be the greatest? It can get pretty lonely up there on that hill by yourself.
What Character are you playing?
We start right here, right now, in this present moment.
Who are you right now, and what do you desire to be?
What is the reality of this time in your life, and how can you create the future you thrive in?
Have you taken on the role of the clueless housewife or the disengaged dad? Have you become something that has become bigger- and more ugly - than your true heart's desire?
Don't speak the negativity into reality. Don't rise up to lowered expectations. Really identify what roles you play in your marriage, your parenting, and your life. Is it a true representation of you in all your greatness?
Actions of Great Marriages
John Gottman has laid these points out as key elements of a great marriage:
Will My Marriage Last?
What predicts people's longevity in life has so much to do with the quality of their closest relationships. If guy kisses his wife every day when he leaves for work, it can add 5 years to his predicted life span. A love that lasts a lifetime can extend your longevity for 15 years!
The key characteristic of a great relationship is agreeability - not that you can't have disagreements, but you are working together toward a common goal. When tensions mount and you don't feel heard, or you feel attacked, your heart rate goes up. A higher heart rate pushes your brain into fight or flight mode, neither of which is healthy for a happy relationship.
When you agree, there is a peace the resonates when you feel you are on the same page. Recognize when your reptilian is coming into play. When you feel fight, flight or freeze, this is a learning opportunity. This is a sign that you can address and change the way you approach life every single day. How will you keep from hitting up against this same wall? What can you take personal responsibility for to let go of this defensive mechanism?
Don’t wait and just let it slide until it becomes so much a part of your history
that it takes counseling to break down the baggage of resentment
you’ve been holding onto.
Your Weekly Challenge:
Pay attention to what roles you play in your home. Are you creating a powerful synergy in your home, or fighting for first place? Have you stepped into your own greatness and recognized the impact it has on others?
Revisit your why. It will evolve and change. Talk things out and discuss what's working and what isn't. Explore different stories and determine what you want your relationship - and your family to be like.
Ask yourself some key questions:
- Are we where we want to be?
- Are we truly happy?
- What am I tolerating?
- What role can I play to improve this?
You have an impact. Everywhere you go, you have an impact. Emotionally, energetically, you have more power than you may give yourself credit for.
I am passionate that each of us has our own unique strengths that are important to share. You are powerful beyond measure. You make an impact. And so does everyone else in your family. The more you can understand that, know how to interconnect, and have grace, the more your family will thrive. Because ultimately, the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us.
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