Relationship Medicine: Learn Simple Pearls from a Relationship Researcher

If you are a physician and married or in a relationship, I have great news for you, we can all learn high-yield 'relationship pearls' from well-done marriage research in the same way we learn 'clinical pearls' from Evidence-Based Medicine. Meet Dr. John Gottman.

Gottman Research Methodology

A few years ago, when I felt I needed some extra guidance to move closer to marital bliss, I discovered a book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by Dr. John Gottman. (He has many other outstanding books).From Gottman's book and his videos, I learned many practical  ‘marriage pearls’.

Gottman's advice, driven by his compelling research, can help couples trying to cope with the stress of crushing work hours and expanding life's responsibilities. The long journey from med school through residency and beyond is not easy and we should all be ready to learn from Gottman.

If you are too busy to read the book, watch the video (below). Gottman highlights his research findings in a way that is soothing, engaging and motivating. You will want to read the book.

One of the quantitative research methods Dr. Gottman uses to study couples is a 'love-lab.

In the lab, he brings couples to a little vacation-like setting, a modest apartment with great views in Seattle. After informed consent, couples spend a weekend in the apartment with video cameras in place (everywhere but the bedroom and bathroom) recording how they talk and interact with each other. Their blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels are measured whether they are getting along or not.

Gottman Relationship Pearl

Hear is a pearl you will learn from Gottman about the predictors of good (and bad) outcomes in marriage which are based on his long term follow-up of nearly three thousand couples over twenty years.

It's intuitive that saying kind things is better for a relationship, right? Well, Gottman and colleagues observed the impact of negative v.s. postive statements while couples spent time in the love lab.

Q. What do you think the the ratio of positive statements and behavior to negative statements and behavior predicts a successful marriage? 

A.  5: 1

Think about it.  When you are anger or hurt you say and do things that maybe hurtful to your partner. Those negatvie behaviors are have a much greater impact on the relation than the positive behaviors you have shown.

Watch a Forty-Minute Video to Learn Skills and Understand the Research

I love the video below.  I have watched twice and suggest you have a pen handy. You may want to take notes.

So, grab a glass of wine or your favorite herbal tea and watch the video with your partner or alone. See what 'marriage pearls' you will pick up.

After you watch this video, check out The Gottman Institute and find more incredibly informative and inspirational videos, books and resources.


Closing Thoughts

We all begin a relationship or marriage with our own ideas of what we should do from our own personal life experiences, advice from friends, parents, media and beyond.

When you think about it, doesn't it make sense that if you are in a relationship that you should know some of the actual research and evidence that drives great outcomes?

The ultimate goal of a marriage, in my humble opinion, is to develop a deep friendship that serves as a foundation for happiness and harmony where the partners respect and support each other. The foundation has to be solid enough to handle lots of incoming stress.  The mutual understanding in a relationship has to be deep and flexible to handle the daily challenges of too much to do in too little time.

I know that I have done some things well and while for other things I could have done far better in my marriage of twenty-nine years to Jackie, my eternally patient wife.  Jackie and I continue to celebrate many beautiful moments and navigate challenges that pop up in our busy lives. We are blessed to have two great kiddos starting their independent lives

As I think back in our marriage and the challenges we have had, I would have loved to know what Dr. Gottman teaches us now.

It's never too late to learn what you can do better in a relationship or marriage.

Thanks for visiting.


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