It’s hard to believe that the last week of Social Connections is here. The time has flown by, even faster than last semester. During the weeks we’ve spent together, we’ve grown in our knowledge of relationships and connections, connecting further with each other inside and outside of class. We’ve had lots of work and lots of fun, all at the same time. The class has been insightful and has contained many good readings (except for Connected, that book was absolutely boring and a chore to read) . It’s a shame that the class has to end so soon; I’ve certainly enjoyed my time in it.
Now, on to the main topic of my blog for the day. This is the last blog post that I will be doing for John Gottman’s book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. Overall, this has been an interesting read, not quite as good as Dale Carnegie’s book, but definitely better than Connected. At first, I was skeptical as to how this book and the various principles it presented could apply to me, a young college student who is not married and has never been involved in any romantic relationship. As I’ve read more and more of the book, I have realized that many of its principles can apply to any relationship, any friendship. These rules and advice can be taken to a marriage or a friendship. It just presents a good way to treat people close to you, whether that is your husband or wife or best friend. But there are still parts of the book that are not universal and can only be applied to marriages. This is after all a book on marriage, written specifically for marriage by a marriage psychologist.
This week’s readings delved into conflicts within relationships, differentiating two types: Solvable and Perpetual. As their names imply, Solvable conflicts and disputes can be solved, while Perpetual ones cannot be solved and stick around throughout the lifetime of the relationship. These chapters talked much about how to solve Solvable problems and how to lessen the effects of the unwinnable Perpetual problems. Gottman states that sixty-nine percent of all marriage problems are Perpetual. That’s a rather large majority of disputes. It makes me wonder just how any relationship could survive more than a year or so if so many problems can never be worked out. How can marriage be enjoyable if so much time is spent arguing? It definitely does not appear very good or worth that work when painted in such a terrible night. But, as Gottman goes on to explain, even having these Perpetual problems does not mean the end of a relationship, it is all about how a couple goes about handling the problems together. Happy marriages and couples still have many perpetual problems, and they still maintain a long-lasting, healthy, and happy relationship. Much success in dealing with Perpetual problems comes from the repair attempts and recognition of repair attempts by couples. The couples aren’t consumed by these problems, taking every opportunity to point out the shortcomings and problems of their partners; they are able to work at them over time, recognize the problems, and improve the situation. It makes sense for there to be problems in a relationship. People are different and will butt heads every now and then. They cannot agree on everything. But they must work through things together, and that is where the beauty of marriage comes to the surface, how two partners are willing to sacrifice for each other to make a relationship work because of their love for one another. If there is nothing to work through or not to achieve together, what is the point of having a marriage.
This can be applied to other relationships, in friendships where two friends will sacrifice for each other and overcome obstacles together. I have had many problems and arguments with my friends, especially my best friend. Every time, we have been able to work through them all, the Solvable and the Perpetual. We have always reconciled, after confronting and recognizing the problems. I have used repair attempts all of the time; they have truly been vital to my relationships, allowing us to work through any problems. We did not just ignore whatever transpired, we forgave each other and came to an understanding. I had never realized this when the conflicts were happening, but my friends and I did use the principles that Gottman lays out to the readers.
Much of the reading details ways to deals with steps to solve a relationship’s Solvable problems. Gottman establishes five key steps in dealing with the problems. The first one is “Soften your startup.” At first this seems like it would be extremely easy to follow through on, but once you think about it and apply it to a situation, it is easy to lose. How easy is it to hold back all of the emotions that are boiling up inside in the middle of a heated argument? It is clear why one is supposed to do this, as yelling at your partner and egging on a conflict will do no good for the situation. If you look for a conflict, you will certainly easily find one. Cooling each other down and starting out soft and calm can go a long way in helping the situation. The second one is “Learn to make and receive repair attempts.” This is vital to any conflict, as it helps the situation not escalate into something worse, something that can rend the relationship asunder. In order for this to work, both people in the couple need to be open to receiving to these repair attempts. They won’t do any good if they fall on deaf ears. The third is “Soothe yourself and each other.” Letting yourself get out of control in the argument does not do any good. Both people need to remain calm with each other, maybe take time away from each other, take a break from the argument to calm down. The fourth is “Compromise.” This is once again vital for any relationship. Compromise is inevitable if the relationship is going to last any amount of time. You can’t win every argument, you need to come with a compromise that is the best for the relationship. The fifth is “Be tolerant of each other’s faults.” Everyone has faults. No one is perfect. I know I am not by a long shot. Those faults will not go away once you are married. You must learn to deal with these faults.
Overall, this book has a lot of helpful information for any relationship and would recommend it to anyone.