Marriage Wisdom Applied Broadly

Stephanie Brun de Pontet

John Gottman is one of the foremost experts on marriage and he has been widely quoted on television, in books, in academic journals and other magazines.  While he offers extensive wisdom on marriage – below are a few themes or ideas he has often raised, that have currency for marriage and all close family relationships.

  1. Honor each other’s dreams – listen to one another with care and find ways to be supportive.
  2. Respect and affection are two of the most important ingredients in any lasting close personal relationships
  3. Find ways to say ‘yes’ to one another – not avoiding conflict, but actively seeking areas of agreement and articulating these to one another.
  4. Small gestures of connection and caring build trust.  It can be easy to start to take our closest relationships for granted, always make an effort to demonstrate your interest in the other person and their priorities.
  5. It is critically important to know how to make repairs to your relationships.  If there has been a disagreement – successful relationships are those that know how to rebuild after the storm…
  6. The ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’ that spell doom for a marriage are also toxic elements to any close relationship.  These are: Criticism, Defensiveness, Stonewalling, and Contempt.   If you find these regularly creeping into any of your family relationships, it is a sign of real challenges to that bond.  Note that Dr. Gottman suggests that contempt is the worst of these as it communicates disgust.

A family business partnership is often deeply influenced by the marriage partnership of the parents.  The marital partnership is the core building block of families and the way a couple navigates its marital bond will certainly have an impact on their children and their approach to partnerships more broadly, influencing generations to come.


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