Earlier this week, Jill Gover, director of counseling at the LGBT Community Center of the Desert in Palm Springs, reminded us that “marriage may not be right for everyone.” And to those thinking about making their union official, she suggested they consider whether their relationships have the seven principles author and marital expert John Gottman identified to make marriage work.
1. Enhance your love maps. You know all of your partner’s relevant information, from life dreams to favorite movies, as a best friend would.
2. Nurture fondness and admiration. You have a positive view and deep appreciation of your partner, and express it.
3. Turn toward your partner instead of away during times of stress. “You want your partner to be that confidante,” Gover says.
4. Let your partner influence you. You shouldn’t make important life decisions autonomously, as a single person would.
5. Solve your solvable problems. All couples have solvable and perpetual problems, but long-term couples solve those they can and understand there will always be perpetual problems.
6. Overcome gridlock. What often underlies perpetual problems are unfulfilled dreams. Talk about those dreams with the goal of making peace with the problem.
7. Create shared meaning. Develop the big and small rituals that help build the bond with your partners. Rituals range from hosting an annual party to having coffee together in the morning.
Gottman is a professor of psychology at the University of Washington and the founder and director of the Seattle Marital and Family Institute. His book, written with Nan Silver, is “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.”