Will You Get A Divorce? A Local Doc Knows!April 9, 2012 @ 5:39 pm (Updated: 1:06 pm - 4/10/12 )
By Rachel Belle
He's not a psychic, but within three hours of meeting you and your significant other, Dr. John Gottman can predict if you'll divorce or not.
"By watching them and coding their behavior and also looking at what is going on physiologically, in their bodies, we can predict, with up to 94 percent accuracy, whether they'll get a divorce or not."
He can even tell you when you'll be divorced. Orcas Island's Dr. Gottman is one of the country's most respected relationship experts, and he's been peering into the lives and bedrooms of couples for the past 40 years. He says there are two kinds of relationships: The Disasters and the Masters, and John says the way they argue is a big divorce predictor.
"The Disasters really point their finger at their partner and say 'You know, as far as I can tell, I'm pretty much perfect, but you are defective and here is what's wrong with you.' They're basically saying 'If you change, we'll have a happy relationship.' Their partner tends to respond to that criticism, most of the time, by being defensive, pointing their finger and saying 'Well, you're not so perfect!' The Masters are really different. They present the problem as 'our problem.' They talk about it in a gentle way that doesn't make their partner defensive."
I plucked out a few Masters from our newsroom to see how they compare. This year, news anchor Tony miner is celebrating 35 years with his high school sweetheart.
"You need to learn how to have a fair fight. No yelling. You can't be yelling and screaming and throwing stuff. You have to be very mellow about it, sit down and analyze it and say 'What are you upset about? What did I do? What's going on here?' Each person has to be able to have a say, and then hopefully you can come to some kind of resolution."
Fair fighting has gotten MyNorthwest.com's Stephanie Klein to her 7th year of marriage.
"There's a lot of humor that gets injected to diffuse the tension and I think that goes a long way. It never has ever escalated to a point of screaming. We try to keep it at a level that's constructive."
As far as when a couple might split up, Dr. Gottman says the fiery relationships usually end at around 6 years and the couples who slowly disengage, who have lost interest in each other, last about 16.
"If it's really hot, if it has a lot of attack, then the marriage burns out real quickly. But if it's low level disappointment, and withdrawal from the other person, then they can raise kids up to the teenage years. Then, all of a sudden, they seem to say 'This relationship is pretty empty.' Then they break up."
Dr. Gottman, and his wife Julie, now train therapists in Turkey, Korea, Iceland and other countries, and they have learned that people all want basically the same thing.
"You need to feel loved and respected in your relationship. There's that sense of justice and fairness and respect, as well as affection and attraction and sexuality. That romance stays alive, that playfulness and fun stay alive. That adventure stays alive. That seems to be pretty universal."
My coworker, Josh Kerns, shares one thing that works for him and his wife of 22 years.
"It's leaving little notes, 'I love you.' It's texting, checking in. I think the little things add up to a lot of big things."
"Find out the things that she really likes. Really likes. Then do a lot more of that," guru Tony Miner says. "I happen to know that a foot rub, just a spontaneous foot rub, gets me miles and miles and miles ahead! Gets me a huge stack of chips. Also, figure out the things that she really hates, that you do, and don't do them. Now that may sound simple, but it's true."
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