CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

AN EMPIRICALLY BASED APPROACH TO COUPLES’ CONFLICT

John Gottman

Julie S. Gottman

Andy Greendorfer

Mirabai Wahbe

In this chapter we summarize the research strategy and major findings from approximately forty years of scientific research and clinical work in the study of couples. The basic initial research question was, “What discriminates relationships that work well, are stable, and reasonably happy from relationships that dissolve or stay together and are unhappy?” The initial hope was that there were indeed differences between successful and unsuccessful couples that were measurable, reliable, stable, and understandable.

The scientific climate in the early 1970s in psychological research suggested that the best measures ...

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