“Coping With Typical Solvable Problems”–The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work

This chapter begins by citing the hot buttons of marital discord: “Work stress, in-laws, money, sex, housework, a new baby..Even in very happy and stable marriages, these issues are perennials…Although every relationship is different, there’s a reason why these particular conflicts are so common:  They touch upon some of the marriage’s most important work.

Wow.  Think about that for a moment.  These are issues that cover almost everything in life, and gives true credence to that idea that having a good marriage takes work.  However, what the author adds to this oft-repeated phrase and conversation about work in marriage is that it takes a “rich understanding” between the husband and the wife.  Both people need and should feel secure in the marriage.  Dr. Gottman cites that marriage should be a port in the storm , a place of peace.

I love this chapter because Dr. Gottman provides some real solutions to the six basic areas of stress. What I like about the sections devoted to each area is that he breaks it down to an essential task for the marriage to accomplish.  He starts with the stress of the work day, and then spends a particular amount of time on the stress that in-laws can provide to a marriage (including an exercise based around this for you to work on in your family).

He also provides a multi-step solution to  the dilemmas about money that couples often face.  He writes that through his research he has found that money is a solvable problem in the beginning of a marriage; the newlywed stage.  “That’s because as a marriage goes on, these issues either become resolved successfully or develop into perpetual problems about money’s symbolic meaning.”    He talks about setting clear-headed budgeting (and cites one of my favorite books, “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin – who else loves that book besides me?)

The next few sections are about sex, and about housework.  I love that for housework that Dr. Gottman states the task in working on this area is “Creating a sense of fairness and teamwork.”  He includes a four- paged list of “Who Does What” with columns for “now” and “ideal”, so everyone can get on the same page of contributing to the nurturing of a home.

The section on “Becoming Parents” , statistics show that a baby changes a marriage forever, and it seems that most of the time the changes are for the worse!
“In the year after the first baby arrives, 67 percent of wives experience a precipitous plummet in their marital satisfaction.”  Wow.  That is really high!

Dr. Gottman goes on to say that the  33 percent of wives that experience greater marital satisfaction in that first year do so because their husband has also experienced the transformation into parenthood.  If many husbands feel “left out” whilst a new mother is experiencing the transforming time of new motherhood, he has to realize that he cannot “get his wife back”.  Instead, Dr. Gottman writes, “He has to follow her into the new realm she has entered. Only then can their marriage continue to grow.”  He has several pages of tips to help couples stay connected as they navigate this change.

Great chapter with lots of food for thought.  Hope you all are enjoying it!

Many blessings,


6 thoughts on ““Coping With Typical Solvable Problems”–The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work

  1. I really appreciate following this book along with you. The copy I ordered from the library still hasn’t come in (I imagine someone else needs it more than I) but I may break down and buy it!

    I too adore the now-classic book “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Rubin. I think I’ve recommended it to everyone so often that they’re weary of hearing about it.

    Because I haven’t read Dr. Gottman’s book, my comments may be entirely off base, but I don’t agree that money (or any) problems are most solvable in the newlywed stage. I got married at 18, having graduated from high school a year early, working to get my undergrad degree done in two or three years, basically hurtling full speed ahead into an accelerated version of adulthood. My young husband and I surely made most mistakes there were to make. Now, having gotten about a decade longer jump into marriage on most of my friends, I also have a longer view of it. It seems to me there are seasons. Long, dry, miserable seasons as well as lovely verdant growing seasons. Interestingly those seasons, for us, rarely had to do with the often extreme pressures on our marriage from outside the relationship (chronically ill children, difficult in-laws living with us, unemployment, crime, grief). There were indeed times that I would have left the marriage if I’d had the money or my children had been older. That would have been a tragedy, because he and I have grown into a relationship of deep caring and mutual respect, with so much love for each other that it surpasses words. Our kids will be moving out in a few short years and we know that our relationship will become ever more primary. Having been through so many problems, I can now say that a core of loving support is essential, but time and the rewards of greater maturity also have remarkable healing powers.

    • Laura,
      Right? I got married at 21, and we put all our money together (uh, none plus none equals none! LOL)…I wonder though, if he is referring more to the patterns that are set up in regards to money and budgeting and how these roles can be harder to change years into it…I will have to go back and re-read that section. This chapter, in particular, was really good I thought so I hope you get your copy from the library soon!

  2. Could someone please tell me what book the author is talking about that Dr Gottman wrote. //The chapter is “Coping With Typical Solvable Problems”–The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work” according to this article. Thanks

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