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The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work – Principle 2: Nurture your Fondness and Admiration

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work – Principle 2: Nurture your Fondness and Admiration

Last Updated on March 22, 2022 by admin

Taking your partner for granted is something of a universal experience. You spend lots of time with this extraordinary person and then over time they start to seem ordinary. Stan Tatkin says that this “boring” feeling comes from our brains doing something very smart: automation of familiar information. If we didn’t, we would never get any work done or die of exhaustion!

So what do we do? In John Gottman’s view, having some sense that the other person is worthy of respect and love is the first step to creating a “fondness and admiration system,” and this way, couples can move out of this taken-for-granted zone. He believes that fondness and admiration are the foundation of a romance that is long-lasting and healthy.

No matter how dysfunctional a couple may seem, if they look at their past together fondly, remembering the good times instead of the bad, it means that they still have some fondness and admiration for each other, and are able to bring their relationship back to those good memories they look back on. This ability to look fondly to one’s past is especially helpful when the going gets tough as it provides a layer of protection.

Even if your relationship is perfectly healthy, there’s always room to kick it up a notch, making sure that any contempt or resentment isn’t held on to, corroding the relationship from the inside out.

If you’re wondering how to do this, don’t worry! John Gottman’s got us.

He developed several exercises that help build up a couple’s fondness and admiration. Here, we will introduce one: the “I Appreciate…” exercise.

Take a few moments and think about aspects of your partner’s personality: What do you appreciate? What do you adore? To get you stared, you might want to look up positive adjectives online and circle three to five items that you think are characteristic of your partner (below is a sample!). For each item you circle, think of an actual incident that illustrates this characteristic of your partner. Write a note about
this incident next to the item. Then share the circled adjective and this incident with your partner.

In doing this activity, Gottman found that couples began to “rediscover something they had misplaced” and was a beautiful way for couples to re-open up to each other.

For the full version of these exercises, refer to Gottman’s Seven Principles book, and they’re also available in booklet form in Gottman’s Relationship Guides that can be purchased from The Gottman Institute.

These exercises may seem tedious, but even just doing one is a step in the right direction to making your relationship happier and longer!


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