The disasters looked calm during the interviews, but their physiology, measured by the electrodes, told a different story. Their heart rates were quick, their sweat glands were active, and their blood flow was fast. Following thousands of couples longitudinally, Gottman found that the more physiologically active the couples were in the lab, the quicker their relationships deteriorated over time. But what does physiology have to do with anything? The problem was that the disasters showed all the signs of arousal—of being in fight-or-flight mode—in their relationships.
Having a conversation sitting next to their spouse was, to their bodies, like facing off with a saber-toothed tiger. Even when they were talking about pleasant or mundane facets of their relationships, they were prepared to attack and be attacked. This sent their heart rates soaring and made them more aggressive toward each other.
The masters, by contrast, showed low physiological arousal. They felt calm and connected together, which translated into warm and affectionate behavior, even when they fought. Gottman wanted to know more about how the masters created that culture of love and intimacy, and how the disasters squashed it. In a follow-up study in , he designed a lab on the University of Washington campus to look like a beautiful bed and breakfast retreat. He invited newlywed couples to spend the day at this retreat and watched them as they did what couples normally do on vacation: cook, clean, listen to music, eat, chat, and hang out.
And Gottman made a critical discovery in this study—one that gets at the heart of why some relationships thrive while others languish. The wife now has a choice. Though the bird-bid might seem minor and silly, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the relationship.
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The husband thought the bird was important enough to bring it up in conversation and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects that. People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing interest and support in the bid. These bidding interactions had profound effects on marital well-being. Only three in ten of their bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy.
By observing these types of interactions, Gottman can predict with up to 94 percent certainty whether couples—straight or gay, rich or poor, childless or not—will be broken up, together and unhappy, or together and happy several years later. Much of it comes down to the spirit couples bring to the relationship. Do they bring kindness and generosity; or contempt, criticism, and hostility? They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Contempt, they have found, is the number one factor that tears couples apart. And people who treat their partners with contempt and criticize them not only kill the love in the relationship, but they also kill their partner's ability to fight off viruses and cancers.
Being mean is the death knell of relationships. Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together.
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Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness along with emotional stability is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved. There are two ways to think about kindness. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise. Masters tend to think about kindness as a muscle.
They know that they have to exercise it to keep it in shape. They know, in other words, that a good relationship requires sustained hard work. Neglect creates distance between partners and breeds resentment in the one who is being ignored. The hardest time to practice kindness is, of course, during a fight—but this is also the most important time to be kind. Letting contempt and aggression spiral out of control during a conflict can inflict irrevocable damage on a relationship. You can throw spears at your partner. For the hundreds of thousands of couples getting married this month—and for the millions of couples currently together, married or not—the lesson from the research is clear: If you want to have a stable, healthy relationship, exercise kindness early and often.
When people think about practicing kindness, they often think about small acts of generosity, like buying each other little gifts or giving one another back rubs every now and then. While those are great examples of generosity, kindness can also be built into the very backbone of a relationship through the way partners interact with each other on a day-to-day basis, whether or not there are back rubs and chocolates involved. From the research of the Gottmans, we know that disasters see negativity in their relationship even when it is not there. I read this during the time I was wrestling with these issues just out of college and before marriage.
Judith Orloff M.D.
Apr 01, Miriam Stan rated it it was amazing. So very helpful!!!
Sep 22, Karina Heng rated it it was amazing. So long ago I read this one. Nov 04, Emily Mills rated it liked it. I think the content is great, but since I'm not dating and certainly not married, it doesn't really apply. I read this on the suggestion of "this great is book is great for anyone- married or single. Read it if you're dating or married. If you're single, find other books. Jul 31, Sandra rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: everyone. Shelves: my-favorites , christian.
One of the best books on understanding love, and why some people are incapable of ever loving at certain levels. If you are struggling with relationship problems, feel unloved, or want to grow your inner selfread this book. Jul 28, Galen Olson added it.
Nov 12, Rebekah rated it really liked it Recommends it for: anyone. This was a great book on loving in a relationship. It is very important to love yourself and you'll be better able to love others. Feb 23, Valerija rated it liked it. This is a book for younger people but even so I was able to find few practical advice and enjoy the reading. Botros Jamal rated it it was amazing Jan 03, Tommy rated it liked it Apr 26, The TeaMaker rated it really liked it Jul 17, Carol Cho rated it really liked it Mar 07, Lois Tsinoglou rated it liked it Aug 16, Mary rated it liked it Mar 29, Jennifer rated it liked it Feb 13, Sojana rated it really liked it Sep 05, Kristin rated it it was amazing Oct 27, Effie rated it really liked it Nov 02, Papo Jaulis Pascual rated it it was amazing Apr 07, Ip Sing rated it really liked it Nov 27, Priscila rated it really liked it Dec 20, Nathan rated it liked it Apr 10, Laura rated it it was amazing Jul 09, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.
Discovering the Secrets of Long-Term Love - Scientific American
About Josh McDowell. Josh McDowell.
Since beginning ministry in , Josh has given more than 24, talks to over 10 million young people in countries. He is the author or coauthor of books, selling over 51 million copies worldwide, including More Than a Carpenter more than 15 million copies in print worldwide , which has been translated into over 85 languages, and The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, recognized by Wo Since beginning ministry in , Josh has given more than 24, talks to over 10 million young people in countries.
He is the author or coauthor of books, selling over 51 million copies worldwide, including More Than a Carpenter more than 15 million copies in print worldwide , which has been translated into over 85 languages, and The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, recognized by World magazine as one of the twentieth century's top 40 books. Josh continues to travel throughout the United States and countries around the world, helping young people and adults bolster their faith and scriptural beliefs.
Josh will tell you that his family does not come before his ministry—his family is his ministry. He and his wife, Dottie, have four children and eight grandchildren. Connect with Josh on: Josh. Books by Josh McDowell.
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