Marriage Advice

Marriage advice: How to succeed or fail in marriage

Is there a way to tell if your marriage will succeed or fail?

What if you could tell the exact things would lead to a  happy marriage or divorce?

What if your could predict whether your not your relationship would survive or end up as a misserable failure?

Well belief it or not we actually can tell. Yep, there are some signs that indicate if a marriage will end in the divorce courts or happily survive.

What are they?

Do you think that they include:

  • Sex
  • Money
  • Communication
  • Conflicts, fights and arguments

Before I give you the answer I need to tell you something surprising I found out, while researching this article.

Do you know that successful relationships have the same amount problems  as relationships that flop?

That was an eye-opener for me.

****Research has shown the all relationships suffer from basically the same amount and types of problems.

That is amazing.

The million dollar question is why do some marriages fail and others happily survive?

The truth is, the issues we commonly think are problems in a relationship are only symptoms of deeper issues.

They are like high tempersature (fever) which indicate that something is wrong with your body, it is the actual problem.

What are the things that threaten or build  a relationship?

Dr. John Gotmann, veteran relationship researcher reveals them in the video clip.

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Gottman claims that he is able to predict, with over 90% accuracy, whether or not a couple would be happy or eventually get divorced.

What are the secret predictors of success or failure of a marriage? Do you have any of them in your marriage?

1. Gentleness vs criticism

People who are masters at relating to each other are very gentle with each other. They are careful not to unnecessarily hurt or harm their spouse.

People in disastrous relationship are usually very blaming and critical. Everything seem to be the other person’s fault and problem.

Their spouse have some sort of character defect that makes them really horrible and irritating.

“Criticism is attacking someone’s personality or character – rather than a specific behaviour” John Gothman,

E.g. When Charlie leaves his dirty plate on the table Jenny would say, “ You always leave your plate on the table. Why can’t you just take it to the kitchen, are you are pig?”

Masters at relationship would say something like, “You know I don’t like it when you leave your plates on the table, why can’t you put it in the kitchen?”

2. Defensiveness vs taking responsibility.

Masters of relationships tend to take responsibility for solving and issue. They accept that there is problem and seek solutions on how the problem can be solved.

“Ok, Mary we over spent last month, what do you think we can do to avoid the same problem next month?”

Disasters at relationships tend to be defensive and whine about problems. Defensiveness shows up in a number of ways.

  1. Not accepting blame and coming up with excuses for the problem
  2. Cross blaming. “Yes I have done this, but remember when you did that..”
  3. Rubber balling – accusing the other person for exactly what they blame you for

3. Contempt vs respect and admiration.

This is the greatest predictor that your relations is in very serious trouble

“Contempt is any statement you make to your partner from a superior place.”

It actually serves to insult and psychologically abuse your spouse. It involves insults, name calling, mocking/mockery and body language (sneering, rolling eyes, and curling upper lips).

Amazingly, Gottman pointed out that contempt also lowers the immune system and cause the recipient become vulnerable to disease.

People who have successful relationships on the other hand adore and think highly of their spouse.

4. Stonewalling vs active engagement

This is simply withdrawing from any engagement with the other person, by pretending not to listen or be affected by what the person is saying or doing. It is like talking to a stone wall, which has no feelings or ability to respond or inter act.

This is very deadly, it makes the other person feels as if he is not worthy of your attention or interesting. He or she is a nobody or somebody to be ignored.

Rather than solving the problem it actually exacerbates it.

A great way to avoid this problem is to clearly state that you are upset need to stop before saying or doing something that you will regret later.

Here is a video which illustrates the 4 problems. All the individuals in the video are actors including the narrator.

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The secret ingredient of a great relationship

“The difference between the masters and the disasters is that they were able to repair,” John Gottman.

Being able to accept that you have done something wrong, apologising and asking for forgiveness.

But further tothis is that the more you make your spouse feel special but meeting his/her emotional needs during times of non-conflict, the easier it will be to bounce back from any form of conflict.

So the secret seems to be the ability make your spouse feel happy, fulfilled and connected. The quality of your friendship.


I love the way Dr. Gottman explain the difference between the masters from the disasters of marriage. He illustrates the very well although I think as an academic he uses language and jargons that are a but sterile and clinical. His presentation however is rich and even humorous in some places.

Unfortunately, as one person pointed out he has ignored other reasons for relationship breakdown like:

  • Abandonment,
  • Abuse,
  • Severe addiction and
  • Repeated betrayal with other partners


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