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   A Second Opinion

        A Couple's Guide to Communication
          by John Gottman and others

   A Couple's Guide to Communication claims to be based on 12 valid research studies comparing how distressed and non-distressed couples differ in solving problems.

   The authors suggest specific communication skills, like paraphrasing and validating, which they claim will make a difference to you and your partner in marital satisfaction.

   However the lead author of the book, John Gottman, now says "Perhaps the biggest myth of all is that communication…is the royal road to romance and an enduring, happy marriage."

   John specifically says the techniques of active listening, validation, and conflict resolution are ineffective. Though in the Couple's Guide, that is what he recommended.


   In a rather highhanded fashion, he dismisses the communication skills approach "whether intoned by a psychologist on TV or by a wise manicurist at the local mall."

   In The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work John Gottman does not mention he once was one of the main proponents of this approach, nor does he tell the reader whether he was a TV psychologist at the time, or a wise manicurist.



• A Couple's Guide to Communication by John Gottman, Cliff Notarius, Jonni Gonso, and Howard Markman, Research Press, 1976.

• The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman, Three Rivers / Random House, 1999.

• For John Gottman's critique of marital therapy based on communication skills, see The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, pp 8-11. Note the similarity in the couples activities he recommends in both books.


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