John Gottman is basically a love guru. He has studied thousands of relationships, and after several decades of clinical observation and study, he can predict with 97% accuracy if a couple will stay together or divorce.
I read one of Gottman’s earlier books called The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work when my husband and I were having a rough time just after we were married. It absolutely changed the way I approached our relationship, and it helped us both better communicate so we could come together to work through our issues and move on.
I was expecting good things from Eight Dates, and boy did it deliver. The book is divided into eight sections, one for each date. The dates cover eight of the most meaningful, important, and, often, contentious topics that couples deal with: trust and commitment, conflict, sex, money, family, fun and adventure, growth and spirituality, and dreams. Before the dates are introduced, an intro gives characteristics of successful marriages, as well as advice on how to have an intimate conversation and how to listen.
There is SO MUCH interesting info in this book! I know not everyone is going to froth at the mouth over learning how couples interact with each other, but I seriously couldn’t get enough. It’s all so interesting to me, discovering what is “normal” and what actually creates a lasting connection, especially when it doesn’t necessarily match up with what I expected. Some of my favorite insights:
- Successful marriages have 20 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction.
- Sixty-nine percent of conflicts in most marriages will never be solved. The trick is to fight about (or let go of) these issues effectively.
- Eighty-percent of married couples have sex at least a few times a month. Of those, 32% have sex 2 to 3 times a week.
- Studies have shown that dual-career couples with young children spend only 10% of their evenings together, with most of that time spent discussing errands. (In other words, they have to work extra hard to keep that romantic spark alive…)
- The five most common subjects that couples fight about are money, sex, in-laws, alcohol or drug use, and parenting.
- Arguments about the unpaid work in a relationship (chores and childcare) tend to cause the most conflict.
- The eight most important elements of a successful marriage are fidelity, good sex, division of chores, adequate income, good housing, shared religious beliefs, shared interests, and children.
- Stay at home parents do about $90,000 worth of work per year. (#preach)
- An early indicator of the future success of a marriage happens during pregnancy and the birth of a child. If a husband (the study only involved heterosexual couples) is involved during pregnancy and birth, the marriage will be happier later on. A father tends to stay involved with the children through the years if his marriage has low conflict and there is continued sex.
- Play is a vital component of a relationship. Couples who play together, stay together. This includes experiencing laughter, excitement, anxiety, and curiosity, both separately and together.
- Conflict is how our relationships grow.
- It’s important for couples to share their dreams with each other. Keeping your dreams from your partner leads to bitterness, resentment, loss of passion and desire, and distance.
- Every person has a dream or life purpose, and it should never be sacrificed for the relationship. It’s possible for both people to achieve their dreams, just typically not at the same time.
Is that too much to share? I seriously could go on and on. I just find this stuff fascinating.
Practically speaking, this book is very user-friendly. It talks about each topic, summarizes the chapter, then lays out a date night plan complete with suggestions for how to prepare, where to go, problems to look out for, questions to ask, and an affirmation to say together at the end of the date. It’s intense but also very doable. My husband and I haven’t gone through each of these dates yet, but the ones we’ve done have been really interesting and made us feel more connected.
In short, I’d recommend this book to any couple looking to take their relationship to the next level. Five enthusiastic stars!
Big thank you to John Gottman, Workman Publishing, and Net Galley for the ARC!