Feb 15

“The Love Prescription”/”Eight Dates” for Couples

Two important works by couples experts from The Gottman Institute, a famed relationship lab that studies all kinds of love relationships, are The Love Prescription and Eight Dates.

I. Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love (2019) by John Gottman, PhD, Julie Schwartz Gottman, PhD, Doug Abrams, Rachel Carlton Abrams, MD 

According to Nicole BrodeurSeattle Times, the authors “call this book — their fourth together — ‘a tested program of eight fun, conversation-based dates that will result in a lifetime of understanding and commitment, whether a couple is newly in love or has been together for decades’.”

Selected Quotes:

Successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts.

Make dedicated, nonnegotiable time for each other a priority, and never stop being curious about your partner. Don’t assume you know who they are today, just because you went to bed with them the night before. In short, never stop asking questions. But ask the right kind of questions.

Happily ever after simply means that both partners are known, valued, accepted for who they are and who they are becoming. The goal is to be able to love your partner more deeply each and every year you’re together.

II. The Love Prescription: Seven Days to More Intimacy, Connection, and Joy (2022) by John Gottman, PhD, and Julie Schwartz Gottman, PhD

Per the publisher, the seven-day prescription involves the following:

Day 1: Make Contact
Day 2: Ask a Big Question
Day 3: Say Thank You
Day 4: Give a Real Compliment
Day 5: Ask for What You Need
Day 6: Reach Out and Touch
Day 7: Declare a Date Night

Karen R. Koenig, MEd, LCSW, New York Journal of Books:

This book has many strengths. The main one is the simplicity and brevity of its action plan: changing one habit each day for one week. As long as no abuse is going on in the relationship and both partners are on board, it’s a place to begin—even if this cycle needs to be repeated—and a way to kick-start an upward spiral of love, respect, and caring connection. Following the evidence-based practices laid out by the Gottmans makes a lot of sense either as an adjunct to individual or couples counseling or as a last-ditch effort before entering more in-depth therapeutic work. There isn’t a marriage or romantic partnership out there that won’t benefit from this book.

From the starred review by Publishers Weekly:

Research-backed findings bring scientific rigor to the advice, as when the authors detail a study in which they watched participants attempt to resolve an argument and found that those who were still together six years later were the ones who had five positive interactions (such as a smile) for every negative one; to that end, the Gottmans suggest readers compliment their partners often. The astute guidance is straightforward without being obvious, and the authors excel at distilling sharp lessons from client stories. Couples should consider making this enlightening guide required reading.

Additional Info

Previous posts on this site that offer background regarding Gottman Institute research and material include the following:

Aug 16

John Gottman: A Real Go-To Guy For Relationship Help

If you want to learn how to improve your marriage or relationship, straight or gay, John Gottman, Ph.D., has been one of the top go-to guys for quite a while. One of his most popular books, written with assistance from Nan Silver, is The Seven Principles For Making a Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert (1999).

From Amazon.com: “Gottman, the director of the Gottman Institute, has found through studying hundreds of couples in his ‘love lab’ that it only takes five minutes for him to predict–with 91 percent accuracy–which couples will eventually divorce. He shares the four not-so-obvious signs of a troubled relationship that he looks for, using sometimes amusing passages from his sessions with married couples.”

John Gottman’s “four horsemen of the apocalypse” are Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. I believe these were first described in his book Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last (1994).

The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships, written by John Gottman with Joan DeClaire, gives us another interesting Gottman concept. From the book description: “Introducing the empowering concept of the ’emotional bid,’ which he calls the fundamental unit of emotional connection, Gottman shows that all good relationships are built through a process of making and receiving successful bids. These bids range from such subtle gestures as a quick question, a look, or a comment to the most probing and intimate ways we communicate.”

What does Gottman’s research reveal? ” (P)eople in happy relationships make bidding and responding to bids a high priority in their lives, and he has discovered the fascinating secrets behind mastering the bidding process. Those who do so tend to ‘turn toward’ bids from others, whereas most problems in relationships stem from either’ turning away’ or ‘turning against’ bids for connection.”

Go to Gottman’s website for a quiz to determine how you do your own bids for connection.

One of the newer offerings from both Gottman and his wife, psychologist Julie Schwartz Gottman, is the Gott Sex? Series. Click on the link for info and here for a quiz about your sex life.

And in early September be on the lookout for his next book, What Makes Love Last? How to Build Trust and Avoid Betrayal.