Gottman and Silver (co-authors: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, 1999, etc.) return with a discussion of trust, intimacy and the secrets to love’s longevity.
The book is the product of 40 years of research culled from Gottman’s “Love Lab,” an observational program based at the University of Washington. There, he subjects “long-term romance to scientific scrutiny” via the analysis of a couple’s physical and psychological behavior and their social interactions and routines. The authors describe what Gottman calls the “Four Horsemen” of a couple’s back-and-forth negative interactions: criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. The roles of betrayal and infidelity are also important, and couples must avoid falling prey to the marriage-dooming “lack of deep understanding and connection with each other.” Through the in-depth analysis of specific couples (many presented as case studies), Gottman’s theories ring true, though redundancies and unrealistic expectations (“a partner’s life should be an open book, without secrets”) surface intermittently. His core belief—that “the death of love is a tragedy”—begets proactive, positive solutions ranging from the calculated mapping of a marriage’s development to tips for sex-positive communication. Love Lab home tests include a “Trust Metric,” a true-love indicator and an all-important “When to Bail” test for sputtering relationships. In the appendixes, the authors further identify and open conversational avenues for partners stymied by intimate communication, past emotional baggage and imbalances in sexual desire.
For such an overcrowded topic, this entry manages to be both instructional and enlightening.