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What Makes Love Last?: How to Build Trust and Avoid Betrayal (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

John Gottman PhD , Nan Silver

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What Makes Love Last?


Angel: I have something to say—

George: Hold on. I’m not finished.

Angel: What I am trying to say—

George: See and this is what I’m talking about—

Angel: Right, I know, because I do not—

George: You cut in—

Angel: I have to say something now—

George: No. Because when you cut in—

Angel: I have something to say here.

George: SHUT UP!

Angel and George were newlyweds juggling long work hours while raising two toddlers. That’s a situation tough enough to put pressure on any marriage, but you wouldn’t need a background in research psychology to recognize that this one was in trouble. The dialogue above is a snippet of the argument they had in my research lab. They sparred without end over who worked harder, who did more housework and who said what when. Angel and George, like many embattled couples, gave up on their marriage and divorced. This outcome was not unexpected considering how damaged their relationship was. When I met with them, they could barely look at each other without scowling and rolling their eyes.

For years I have invited couples like Angel and George to take part in experiments at my “Love Lab,” the media’s nickname for the facility at the University of Washington in Seattle, where I subject long-term romance to scientific scrutiny. In a typical study I analyze couples while they converse about everyday topics as well as when they argue. I interview them together and individually. I’ve even observed couples while they spend an entire day at the Love Lab’s studio apartment, which comes complete with sofa, loveseat, TV, kitchen, a lake view, and video cameras hooked to the walls, which record every moment of their interactions. (The bathroom, of course, is off limits.) Thanks to these studies, I have accumulated nearly four decades’ worth of data—a library of how and what partners say to and about each other, and their physiological reactions. These days I also conduct similar exercises with couples who are not part of any study but wish to receive a scientific assessment of their relationship’s staying power.

When couples like Angel and George enter the Love Lab, we hook them up to enough sensors and wires to elicit quips about Dr. Frankenstein. While they adjust to the equipment and their surroundings, information begins to stream from the sensors, indicating their blood velocities, heart and pulse rates, the amount their palms sweat, and even how much they squirm in their chairs. A video camera records all of their words and body movements. On the other side of a one-way mirror, my assistants, surrounded by equipment readouts, and the requisite collection of empty cola cans, scrutinize the subtle interplay between the couple’s biological reactions, body language, facial expressions, and words.

The most frequent experiment I conduct is called the conflict discussion, in which we ask the couple to converse about an area of disagreement for fifteen minutes. To facilitate the analysis of their facial expressions during their disputes, I train a separate video camera on each of them so I can view their faces in real time on a split screen.

It no longer surprises me when our couples are able to relax and “let it rip” despite the staring cameras. Still, I find that most people do curb their behavior in the lab compared to when they squabble at home. But even when partners are acting “camera ready,” they can’t hide from the accuracy of my sensors.

Close analysis of so many couples over the years led me to formulate seven key principles that can improve the odds of maintaining a positive relationship. Described in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, they emphasize the value of friendship between partners, accepting each other’s influence, and being gentle during disagreements. These fundamentals remain a powerful tool set for all relationships. But the sad fate of couples like Angel and George indicated to me that these principles did not reach deep enough to salvage many damaged romances. I could not accept that these partners were somehow fated to be losers at love. To aid these despairing couples, I needed to better understand what was going wrong between them.

Perhaps what puzzled me most about the unhappy couples I studied or counseled was their sincere insistence that they were deeply in love and committed to their relationship—even as they were ordering each other to “shut up” in the Love Lab. Why did so many self-proclaimed devoted couples engage in constant warfare? It made no sense. They derived no relationship benefits from their quarrels. They reported more distress over fighting than did happy couples—and yet they went at it more often.

It would be easy to assume that the unhappy couples argued more than others because, well, they disagreed more. What could be more logical? But as a scientist, I know that “obvious” conclusions are not always accurate. In my lab, computer scientist Dr. Tara Madyhastha helped me find the answer. To trace the anatomy of interactions between unhappy partners, she used what are called “hidden Markov models.” These types of computer analyses, often implemented to decode languages or DNA sequences, can detect underlying patterns. Her results indicated that couples who seem to act like adversaries rather than lovers are trapped by what is known, in technical terms, as an absorbing state of negativity. This means the probability that they will enter the state is greater than the odds that they will exit it. In other words, they get stuck. These unlucky partners are imprisoned in a roach motel for lovers: They check in, but they can’t check out. Consumed by negativity, their relationships die there.

Understanding why some couples wind up in this terrible trap while others are able to sidestep it has been at the heart of my recent research. As a result, I have developed a new understanding of couple dynamics and an enhanced approach to bettering all romantic relationships—not just the ones in distress.

If you listened to trapped couples argue in my lab, you would hear a litany of complaints that wouldn’t seem to have much in common. Tim grouses that Jane cares more about her mother’s opinion than his. Alexis keeps stalling on starting a family, to the frustration of her husband. Jimmy doesn’t like it that Pat wants to switch churches. But when I speak to these unhappy partners, I am struck by an underlying similarity. They are all talking (or shouting) past each other or not even bothering to communicate at all. Despite their commitment to sticking it out, they have lost something fundamental between lovers, a quality often termed “magic” or “passion,” that exists at a primitive, “animal” level. That’s why they end up in the roach motel.

I now know that a specific poison deprives couples of this precious “something” and drives them into relentless unhappiness. It is a noxious invader, arriving with great stealth, undermining a seemingly stable romance until it may be too late. You’ll think at first that I’m stating the obvious when I tell you that the name of this toxin is betrayal. I recognize that some of the harm wrought by betrayal is common knowledge. We face a constant onslaught of tabloid “gotcha!” stories about celebrities and politicians with sex addictions and broken marriage vows. These morality tales of distrust and disloyalty underline how common and devastating infidelity can be. Yet I have good reason for calling betrayal a “secret” relationship killer. The disloyalty is not always expressed through a sexual affair. It more often takes a form that couples do not recognize as infidelity. In my lab, partners will insist that despite their troubles they have been faithful to each other. But they are wrong. Betrayal is the secret that lies at the heart of every failing relationship—it is there even if the couple is unaware of it. If a husband always puts his career ahead of his relationship, that is betrayal. When a wife keeps breaking her promise to start a family, that is also betrayal. Pervasive coldness, selfishness, unfairness, and other destructive behaviors are also evidence of disloyalty and can lead to consequences as equally devastating as adultery.

Despite how dangerous and widespread betrayal is, I can offer couples hope. By analyzing the anatomy of this poison, I have figured out how to defeat it. I now know that there is a fundamental principle for making relationships work that serves as an antidote to unfaithfulness. That principle is trust. Once again it might sound like I’m trumpeting the obvious! Happy couples tell me all the time that mutual trust is what lets them feel safe with each other, deepens their love, and allows friendship and sexual intimacy to blossom. Unhappy partners complain that their relationship lacks this element. But all couples tend to think of trust as an intangible quality that can’t be pinned down or measured in a concrete way. In fact, it is now possible to calculate a couple’s trust and betrayal levels mathematically and subject them to scientific study. This new analytical approach allows me to identify a couple’s strengths and vulnerabilities, and to devise strategies that can rescue miserable relationships from the roach motel and keep others from going there.

In addition to benefitting couples, this new understanding of trust and betrayal has profound cultural implications. It has become commonplace for us to increase the complexity of our lives until we almost reach the breaking point. With our emails, cell phones, and intricate juggling of responsibilities, we live on the edge of a catastrophic stress response. We each have our own “carrying capacity” for stress and tend to pile it on till we come just shy of overload. Headlines that hawk “stress cures” are rife on the internet, on newsstands, and in bookstores. But I believe trust is the greatest stress buster of all.

In relationships where there is a high potential for betrayal, people waste time and emotional energy. Whether the fear concerns adultery or other faithlessness, suspicious people act like detectives or prosecuting attorneys, interrogating their partners, looking for verification that their insecurity is justified. Decision making becomes exhaustive and exhausting: If I go out of town, will he leave the kids with that babysitter I don’t trust? If I check her closet, am I going to find new clothes despite our austerity budget? Should I risk confrontation by checking out his story? One man who suspected his wife of cheating put chalk marks on her rear tires before he left for work one morning. Later, when he discovered that the chalk marks were no longer visible, indicating the car wheels had turned, he asked whether she had left the house. Forgetting about her morning dash to the post office, she said no. This prompted a jealous rage, which put both of their stress levels into hyperdrive.

In sharp contrast, trust removes an enormous source of stress because it allows you to act with incomplete information. You don’t subject your mind and body to constant worry, so the complexity of your decision making plummets. You don’t need to put chalk on tires or otherwise test your partner. Implicit trust saves you a lot of time and leaves you free to grapple with less tumultuous concerns.

I always strive to increase the understanding of long-term relationships and to help couples navigate their way to happier and healthier romance. Still, I know that not all relationships can, or should, survive betrayal. Even when a long-term partnership ends for good reason, the shattered faith in love can be devastating. The loss must be acknowledged and confronted before moving on. If you are recovering from a breakup, the findings and exercises in the pages ahead may offer a deeper understanding of what went wrong and help prepare you to try again with somebody new.

Charting a way forward after a deep wound is just as important as learning to make a relationship work. If your last relationship failed, you may fear trusting someone again. But this wariness can leave you vulnerable to lifelong and profound loneliness. This isolation has not only serious psychological repercussions but physical ones as well. By fine-tuning your radar for deception, this book can help you develop the courage, strength, and wisdom to search for a trustworthy partner.

Throughout my career I have met skeptics who do not believe that sensors, computers, video cameras, and other lab equipment can assess something as mysterious and seemingly indefinable as love. Of course, scientists cannot create a love potion or a solution to all relationship woes. But I can offer advice founded on objective data rather than unproven theory or just the subjective experience of a particular therapist. The pages that follow offer the fruit of my research. They explain why romances can fail for reasons that seem as elusive as love itself. I hope you’ll use my findings to protect a thriving relationship or to rescue one already in danger.

Revue de presse

“In an easy-to-understand format full of anecdotes, imaginary dialogues, and analogies to game theory, Gottman explains lack of trust in a relationship … The practical tools to evaluate current relationships and step-by-step methods for avoiding betrayal, repairing relationships heading toward crisis, or healing a relationship after a crisis will be useful to couples who want to look honestly at healing chronic hurts and improving the state of their relationship, and are ready for a system to help them.”—Publishers Weekly

"Instructional and enlightening..."—Kirkus Reviews

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.5 étoiles sur 5  80 commentaires
45 internautes sur 48 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Gottman does it again - exceptional research, practical advice! 16 octobre 2012
Par Dr. Kathy Nickerson - Publié sur
As a relationship expert myself, I am constantly reading books about healing from affairs, repairing marriage, and regaining trust in a damaged relationship. Dr. Gottman is truly a psychologist's psychologist; he has been researching couples and relationships for almost 40 years and every single one of his books contains practical advice. This book is no different and what really makes it stand out from all of the other relationship books on the market is that it is based on research, not hunches or guesses.

In this book, Gottman discusses the impact of betrayal on a relationship and how repeated betrayal erodes the foundation of a marriage. He describes how partners who have lost trust in each other frequently end up in very negative cycles of continued arguments. Gottman goes on to give readers many practical tools and tips, including how to measure your current trust level, how to analyze your contribution to an argument, how to rebuild trust, and much more.

Quite simply, if you or someone you know is working to repair their marriage after an affair or trust injury, there's no better book on the market. I couldn't recommend it more highly.

Kathy Nickerson, PhD
38 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Most meaningful research based Relationship Advice I've ever read 14 octobre 2013
Par Leo Ostapiv - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
While writing mine HOME FINANCES for COUPLES. Resolve Money Problems in Marriage and Learn Easy Steps to Manage your Family Budget I've read several relationship books, this one is in TOP 3. Here is my review:

Loving partnership gives us wonderful gifts that make life worth living: a sense of purpose, greater health and wealth, and, of course, loving care and nurturance. We all desire to have it. But, how to make it last for decades?

"What Makes Love Last" is very different from any other relationship book I've read before. Dr. Gootman knows his subject in depth.

- Conclusions and recommendations are based on the objective data from scientific studies
- Number of useful assessment metrics and tests (measure trust metric, accessing sex and romance, "is this a real thing" quiz, etc)
- A perfect balance between sientific and general writing style.
- Lots of valuable advice (I took about 3 pages of notes)

- The Zeigarnik effect about unresolved issues (people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks)

- Negative comparisons lead to betrayal

- Relationship killers are founded on two building blocks: deception (not revealing your true needs to avoid unpleasent conflict) and a yearning for emotional connection thats seems unavailable from the partner

- Attunement : ability to understand each other at a deep level and lovingly express that knowledge to each other

- Not to give advice unless asked. Just being there and listening is an enormous contribution

- Turn to each other during sliding door moments. Do not move onto negotiating a compromise until you can say to each other Yes you got it. That is exactly my position and what I am feeling.

- Stick to "I feel" "I need" statements instead of "You don't...", "You should"

- When partners are upset, their negative emitions line up like dominos. What else are you feeling ? Is there more you want to say?

- Listener: pause and breathe, write down what your partners says and any defensiveness you are feeling, remember your love and respect (in this relationship we do not ignore one another plans, I have to understand this hurt)

- The sexually active partners had a closer friendship and were commited to making sex a priority.

- Most women want sex sex when they already feel emotionally close, but for men sex is a way of becoming emotionally close.

-Five dimensions of interview to predict risk of divorce:
* Positive vs negative past memories
* I vs WE statements
* Still remember love map detais of memorable moments and partner's inner world
* Telling how they struggle and overcome difficulties instead of chaos description
* Feeling of satisfaction with the relationship vs disappoitment

- When a man realizes how critical it is that he make his wife feel secure, their relationship reaps enormous benefits.

- Description of trust game (Individual who risk trusting others benefit more than those who are suspicious)

- Enduring love comes when we love most of what we learn about the other person and can tolerate the faults they cannot change


- Beside sex chapter the book has too brief advice on "How to improve it" after the measurement was take.
- It's age resistant relationship advice, but still it would be good to mention some modern family challenges (Dual income household, impact of Facebook and mobile...)
- Money and household economics is often an issue, the book has no mentions of money problems and dealing with them

The book provides unique relationship assessment tools and illuminates what it takes to create a relationship that is mutually satisfying and adds profound meaning to your life.

Leo Ostapiv
22 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Okay..... 11 février 2013
Par Adele Roof - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Gottman has some very good ideas, but if you have read other books by him, there wasn't much new here that he hasn't said in previous books.
27 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Best relationship book out there! 7 octobre 2012
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
This book is well researched and is the best book I've read on making a relationship last. It contains specific actions you can take and list areas of caution, not a bunch of psychological, theoretical jumbo-jumbo. I plan to buy a copy for each of my kids as they start looking for life partners; it is that great.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Learning Trust in Relationships, without pain. 9 octobre 2014
Par David Webster - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Amazon-- In this insightful book, celebrated research psychologist and couples counselor John Gottman plumbs the mysteries of love….Where does love come from? Why does some love last, and why does some fade? And how can we keep it alive? Based on laboratory findings, this book shows readers how to identify signs, behaviors, and attitudes that indicate a fraying relationship and provides strategies for repairing what may seem lost or broken.

Gottman has spent decades observing the conversational patterns and biorhythms of thousands and thousands of couples in his famous Love Lab. Now he applies this research to fundamental questions about trust and betrayal. Doubts are common in relationships. Partners often worry. Can I trust my partner? Am I being betrayed? How do I know for sure?
With a gift for translating complex scientific ideas into insightful and practical advice, Gottman explains how a couple can protect or recover their greatest gift, their love for one another.
This book is light and fairly easy to read. That is deceptive. It is a life-saver and one that I dearly wish was in my life when I was stumbling around. Read it if you want to learn about keeping trust in relationships. Oh wonder! Our biology wants closeness with others, yet we often undermine our most important love relationships.

My five takehomes may be helpful to you in your needs-of-today.

1) We are limbic beings, mammals, we need attachment. Connection is not optional for living a good life. We are more efficient when we trust and live longer with it. Mistrust with those close to us is extremely draining psychically/physically.

2) This book has many fixits to restore trust, including detailed and useful surveys for couples to use. One whole chapter says “good relationships needs good sex.” And many lessons on “Learning Trust.”

3) Gottman has a lot of lovely phrases that can help us to keep good habits of loving: Blame+ is the “Roach motel for lovers;” relational experiences go in the nice box, the neutral box, or the nasty box; do you walk through your partners proffered “Sliding door moment?” The “Ziegarnack effect” is that memories of unfinished business do not fade with time. You might notice the downward spiral of a relationship when you either start to have “Negative sentiment override;” and/or “negative comps”—comparing current partner with imagined other partners.

4) Couples spending a lot of time in the Neutral Box [neither nasty nor nice] of emotionally un-flooded communication is very healing; especially if you can be emotionally neutral while noticing disagreements. Another way of saying—being non-reactive to a relationship’s emotional weather is darn important. Humor rocks!

5) This book describes the ten kinds of betrayal of trust in relationships; sexual cheating is but one.

Thank you, John and Nan for telling us as so much, so painlessly! And Kim for tightening this piece, nicely.
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