Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

I read The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Workbecause Elizabeth Foss raved about it, and I did find it interesting and helpful.  The book’s author researches marriages and relationships and so the book is very data-driven, but in a readable way.  The author debunks several commonly held ideas, shows how most marriage therapists are not as helpful as they could be, and suggests principles that couples can work on to make their marriages work.

One thing that stuck out to me in particular was the author’s assertion that you shouldn’t worry about solving your arguments, because, in fact, most marital arguments can’t be resolved.

I’ll pause to let that sink in.

According to the author’s research, many recurrent arguments are rooted in fundamental identity, upbringing, or personality differences that won’t go away. Instead of trying to change your spouse’s dreams and deeply held views on how things work, you should focus on respecting and honoring your spouse’s perspective so you can “declaw” the issue and figure out a way that each of you can be more flexible and stop the issue from being painful.

Overall, the tone of the book is very hopeful.  The author’s research shows that people can have very happy and fulfilling marriages even when they are very different, don’t have date nights, and disagree on things (contrary to what you may have heard).  You don’t need to be Cinderella and Prince Charming.  Having a happy and fulfilling marriage seems to come down more to how fond you are of each other, your refusal to allow contempt to enter your relationship, and your commitment to honor and respect one another even in your differences.

I’m not sure if I’d recommend this book to engaged couples or newlyweds, because you’d probably read it and think “yeah whatever these will never be issues for us.”  But if you’ve been married a while, you probably would at least get some good encouragement from The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.


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