Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work: Chapter 12

Last chapter of the book: Afterword: What now?

The Magic Five Hours:

-to spontaneously fix and/or improve their relationships, people would renew their relations in about 5 hours a week with many small things. Gottman called this the Magic Five Hours. Activities included:

  1. Parting: before saying goodbyes in the morning, find out one thing which is happening in the partner’s life that day;
  2. Reunions: stress-reducing conversations at the end of each workday
  3. Admiration and appreciation: find some way every day to communicate genuine affection and appreciation towards your spouse
  4. Affection: kiss, hold, grab and touch each other when together
  5. Weekly date: could be a relaxing low-pressure way to stay connected. Ask each other questions [to update your love-maps] and turn towards each other. Talking out a marital issue or working through an argument can also be placed here.


The Marriage Poop Detector:

-the mythic assumptions that marriage expectations are often overblown and lowering expectations of each other will help marriage - was shown to be wrong! People with higher expectations of marriage had the highest quality of marriage. For example, people who expected to not have too much negativity, contempt, defensiveness, etc… , and insisted on confronting it gently, wound up happiest married. Therefore, the marriage needs an early warning system “Marital Poop Detector”. i.e. when one partner senses something is wrong, they could ask the partner what is going on (not too close to bedtime as it may interfere with sleep).


Issues to bring up could include:

  1. I have been acting irritable
  2. I have been feeling emotionally distant
  3. There has been a lot of tensions between us
  4. I find myself wanting to be somewhere else
  5. I have been feeling lonely
  6. My partner has seemed emotionally unavailable
  7. I have been angry
  8. We have been out of touch with each other
  9. My partner has little idea of what I am thinking
  10. We have been under a great deal of stress and it has taken its toll on us
  11. I wish we were closer right now
  12. I have wanted to be alone a lot
  13. My partner has been acting irritable
  14. My partner has been acting emotionally distant
  15. My partner’s attention seems to be somewhere else
  16. I have been emotionally unavailable to my partner
  17. My partner has been angry
  18. I have little idea of what my partner is thinking
  19. My partner has wanted to be alone a lot
  20. We really need to talk
  21. We haven’t communicated very well
  22. We have been fighting more than usual
  23. Lately, small issues escalate
  24. We have been hurting each other’s feelings
  25. There hasn’t been much fun or joy in our lives.


Forgive yourself

No such thing as constructive criticism – it does not work. Complaining about something specific may work, but not the critical stance. Two sources of a partner’s critical stance:

  1. Feeling chronically ignored – thus both partners need to change (one being more responsive and the other less critical).
  2. Self-doubt coming from within [i.e. childhood] – I.e. one who always searches for approval but cannot enjoy it when it is offered. If a person’s mind is trained to find what is wrong, he will miss what is done right by the partner. If you feel you are inadequate, you will look for it in yourself – and in your partner. Instead, learn to forgive yourself for imperfections. Thanking others is not to flatter the others but to ingrain appreciation in ourselves.


  1. Identify your critical tendencies
  2. Give thanks to others every day [partners, family members].



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