Why the best marriages are based on deep friendship.
If anyone understands the chemistry of a good marriage, it’s John Gottman, Ph.D. For over three decades, Gottman has interviewed almost 700 couples, recording their interactions and monitoring their heart rate and stress levels in his “Love Lab” — an apartment outfitted with video cameras and sensors. The co-director of the Seattle Marital and Family Institute (with wife and fellow psychologist Julie, also a Ph.D.), Gottman has compiled his well-studied strategies for beating breakups in a new book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (Crown, 1999).“At the heart of my program,” writes Gottman, a University of Washington psychology professor, “is the simple truth that happy marriages are based on deep friendship. By this I mean a mutual respect for each other’s company,” plus an intimate knowledge of each other’s quirks, likes and dislikes. This explains his surprising finding that frequent fighting is not a sign of a bad marriage (unless, of course, it becomes physical abuse). Because while all couples argue, it is the spouses who are friends first who have the advantage.