The Gottman Doctors: Women Tend to Be More Unhappily Married & Non-Cuddlers Have an Awful Sex Life!

The Gottman Doctors: Women Tend to Be More Unhappily Married & Non-Cuddlers Have an Awful Sex Life!

Intro (00:00:00)

  • Women tend to be more unhappily married than men.
  • 80% of the time, women bring up problems in a relationship.
  • 69% of all problems are not solvable.
  • Relying on problem-solving as an indicator of relationship success can be misleading.
  • The Gottmans are world-renowned researchers and clinical psychologists who have been married for 36 years and have spent the last 50 years studying love.
  • They created the "Love Lab" where they followed 3,000 couples to understand the differences between successful and unsuccessful relationships.
  • Cuddling: 96% of non-cuddlers have an awful sex life.
  • Hookup culture: The Gottmans believe the hookup culture is thriving and consider it a problem.
  • Kissing: Men who kiss their wives goodbye before work live four years longer than those who don't.
  • Criticism: Criticizing your partner instead of expressing your feelings.
  • Defensiveness: Becoming defensive when your partner expresses their feelings.
  • Contempt: Expressing contempt or disrespect towards your partner.
  • Stonewalling: Withdrawing from the conversation or refusing to communicate.
  • The Gottmans express gratitude for their 5 million subscribers on YouTube and their unexpected success.
  • They promise to continue raising the bar and have a surprise in store for their subscribers in 2024.
  • The production will change, and they will feature more guests and global stories.

What mission are you on & Why study love? (00:02:43)

  • Studying love for over 50 years to understand how to create calm, gentle, and compassionate relationships.
  • Aim to help people build successful and sustainable relationships.
  • John and Bob started studying relationships because they were personally struggling and wanted to understand how successful couples make it work.
  • Julie, a clinical psychologist, joined John to develop a theory and interventions to help people improve their relationships.

Studying traits of successful couples (00:07:06)

  • John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman studied successful relationships, including gay and lesbian couples, for over a dozen years.
  • They found that successful couples have different characteristics from struggling couples.
  • Most clinical books on relationships are written by therapists who have not studied successful relationships.
  • The Gottmans have published hundreds of research papers and written over 50 books on relationships.
  • They have studied over 40,000 couples and conducted in-depth research on about 3,000 couples in a lab setting.
  • John Gottman conducted a 40-year longitudinal study on a group of couples, tracking their relationships from their 40s to their 60s.

Link between relationships & our health (00:09:03)

  • Love and relationships have a significant impact on our physical health and longevity.
  • Social epidemiology is a field that studies the relationship between social factors and health outcomes.
  • Research has found that people with strong social relationships live longer and healthier lives than those with poor relationships.
  • Social isolation and bad relationships are associated with a higher risk of disease and early death.
  • Positive relationships with strangers can also contribute to better health and longevity.
  • Modern social psychology has found that reaching out to strangers and learning about their lives can positively impact health.
  • Investing in relationships intentionally is important for our well-being, especially in today's increasingly lonely and detached world.
  • People whose parents divorced tend to live shorter lives, and those who experience divorce themselves live even shorter lives.
  • Love and relationships are crucial for our health, and research is uncovering the biological mechanisms behind these effects.

What is the love lab? (00:12:51)

  • The Love Lab was an apartment-like setting where couples spent 24 hours and were filmed.
  • Physiological data, such as heart rate and blood velocity, was synchronized with the video footage.
  • Other physiological and immune variables were also measured.
  • The lab followed couples after the wedding, during pregnancy, and as their children grew older.
  • The goal was to observe couples' natural interactions and study predictability in relationships.

The misconceptions about relationships (00:15:41)

  • Misconception 1: Sustaining a good relationship requires huge effort.
    • Criticism (e.g., "you always," "you never") doesn't work in managing conflict.
  • Misconception 2: Ignoring a partner's bids for connection is harmless.
    • Responding positively to a partner's small bids for connection (e.g., acknowledging a beautiful bird outside) creates a better friendship.
    • Successful couples turned towards each other's bids for connection 85% of the time, while unhappy couples did so only 33% of the time.

How to connect with your partner (00:17:52)

  • Women tend to be less satisfied in their marriages compared to men.
  • Lack of physical affection and responsiveness to a partner's emotional needs can lead to an unsatisfying sex life and relationship problems.
  • Successful couples prioritize active listening and understanding their partner's feelings.
  • Establishing a routine or ritual for connecting with your partner can help maintain intimacy and prevent emotional distance.
  • Effective communication and compromise are crucial for balancing work and personal time when sharing a living space.
  • Ignoring or rejecting a partner's bids for connection can result in emotional distance, loneliness, and potentially infidelity.
  • When a bid for connection is refused, the rejected partner may feel hurt and discouraged from making future attempts.
  • Avoidant partners may experience an increase in bids for connection after rejecting their partner's initial bid, which can feel like a test of their commitment.
  • Anxious partners may make repeated bids for connection in an attempt to feel secure in the relationship.

What is the 'attuned' framework? (00:27:44)

  • Attunement is like two musical instruments tuned to each other, creating rituals of connection.
  • Examples of rituals of connection include checking in with each other in the morning and having a dinner ritual.
  • Empathy is a powerful tool for creating connection, understanding your partner's perspective, and pulling out information.
  • When unhappy, describe the situation and your positive need instead of blaming or criticizing your partner.
  • Positive needs are expressed as what you would love your partner to do, rather than what they are not doing right.
  • Framing requests in a positive way motivates your partner and encourages desired behavior.
  • Negative framing can lead to defensiveness and relationship problems.

Why does typical couples therapy often fail? (00:32:46)

  • Therapists often lack proper tools for assessing and working with couples.
  • Traditional couples therapy has a low success rate (35-50%) because it focuses on listening to partners complain about each other, which can be counterproductive.
  • Therapists should help couples communicate effectively by encouraging them to express their feelings and needs instead of criticizing each other.

The 7 Principles of a successful marriage (00:35:17)

  • Building love maps: Regularly ask your partner open-ended questions to understand their values, priorities, needs, and feelings, which change over time.
  • Turning toward: Pay attention to your partner and respond positively to their bids for connection.
  • Expressing fondness and admiration: Tell your partner you love them and show it through touch.
  • Managing conflict: Learn effective conflict resolution skills to avoid destructive patterns of communication.
  • Honoring each other's dreams: Support your partner in pursuing their hopes and aspirations, even if they differ from your own.
  • Creating shared meaning: Discuss your purpose in life and share your thoughts and feelings with each other.
  • Building trust and commitment: Demonstrate your commitment to the relationship and be there for your partner in good times and bad.

Do partners' dreams need to be aligned? (00:38:45)

  • Partners' dreams do not have to be aligned.
  • People are often attracted to those who are different from them.

Incompatible dreams (00:38:45)

  • When partners' dreams are in conflict and there is no possible compromise, it can lead to a breakup.
  • An example is given of a couple where one partner wanted to live in Switzerland for their autistic son's support, while the other partner worked for the government in Uganda and did not want to move.

69% of our problems are not solvable (00:40:45)

  • Perpetual problems in relationships can be adapted to and compromised around, but cannot be solved.
  • The bagel or donut method is a compromise technique where partners identify their non-negotiable positions and flexible points on an issue and try to reach an agreement on the flexible aspects while respecting each other's core needs.
  • Gridlocked perpetual problems occur when partners are strongly attached to their positions and want to win the argument, preventing productive dialogue.
  • Lack of understanding and compassion can lead to gridlocked conflicts and escalated fights.
  • Feeling like your partner is trying to change you can create conflict and the perception of inadequacy.
  • The Gottman Doctors developed six questions to help couples break gridlock and build understanding and compromise.
  • A common issue in relationships is feeling uninvolved or unappreciated by your partner.

What to do when your partner wants to change you (00:48:41)

  • If your partner wants you to change your behavior, have a conversation where each of you interviews the other person and asks six questions:
    • What are your beliefs, values, and ethics that are part of your position on this issue?
    • Do you have some background or childhood history that relates to your position?
    • Why is this so important to you?
    • What do you feel about your position here?
    • What is your ideal dream here?
    • Is there some life purpose or goal in this for you that is really important?
  • Asking these questions helps you gain an inside look into what's deepest and most important to your partner regarding the issue, creating more understanding and compassion for one another's positions.
  • This can then lead to working on a compromise that respects both partners' needs and values.

The four horsemen (00:51:19)

  • The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in relationships are criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling.
  • A ratio of positivity to negativity of 5:1 or higher during conflict is associated with successful relationships.
  • Criticism from a place of superiority, sarcasm, and name-calling is particularly corrosive to relationships.
  • Stonewalling, more common in men, occurs when one partner shuts down and does not respond to the other.
  • Men are more easily physiologically aroused than women and secrete more vasopressin, which can lead to anger and aggression during conflict.
  • Women tend to be more unhappily married because they are more likely to be the primary caregivers for children and have less time for themselves.
  • Flooding is a physiological response to feeling attacked or unsafe, characterized by the secretion of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
  • When flooded, individuals experience psychological implications such as impaired information processing, reliance on overlearned habits, compromised hearing and peripheral vision, and a focus on survival cues.
  • Flooding can hinder creative problem-solving and listening abilities.
  • Men tend to avoid arguments more than women, possibly due to physiological differences in flooding responses.
  • Women are generally better at self-soothing than men during arguments.
  • When flooded, women may repeat themselves, become more strident, and have difficulty listening.
  • It is advisable to take a break during an argument if feeling flooded.
  • When taking a break, it is important to communicate the need for a break and specify when the conversation will resume to avoid feelings of abandonment and rejection in the partner.
  • During the break, it is recommended to engage in soothing activities such as reading, exercising, or working to calm the body and mind.
  • Avoid thinking about the argument or planning a rebuttal, as this can prolong the flooded state.
  • Women tend to be more unhappily married than men.
  • Women experience higher rates of depression compared to men.
  • The world can be more challenging and dangerous for women, with a 40% probability of experiencing physical or sexual assault in their lifetime, compared to 9% for men in the United States.

What's a 'caretaker' in a relationship (01:03:31)

  • Women tend to bring up problems in a relationship more often than men (80% of the time).
  • Women are raised to nurture and maintain relationships, so they feel responsible for the relationship's well-being.
  • Men may not understand why women bring up issues and may feel blamed or criticized.
  • Communication issues can arise due to different filters and perceptions shaped by past experiences.

Conflict misunderstandings (01:06:31)

  • Conflict is not necessarily a sign of a bad relationship.
  • Successful conflict resolution involves understanding your partner's point of view before trying to solve the problem.
  • Couples who fight but use effective communication tools, such as expressing feelings and needs without blame, can understand each other better.
  • Conflict can reveal underlying dreams, family history, and life purpose, leading to a deeper understanding of your partner.

How to become a master at conflict resolution (01:08:34)

  • Writing down important points during a conflict can help manage emotions and focus on the discussion.
  • Taking notes helps calm the emotional center and activates the logical center of the brain.
  • Writing down what your partner says makes them feel valued and heard.
  • Asking your partner if you understand what they are saying shows that you are engaged and listening.
  • Women tend to be more unhappily married than men.
  • Non-cuddlers tend to have an awful sex life.

How to repair/fix relationship issues (01:11:41)

  • Effective repairs in arguments focus on emotions and are made early in the conversation.
  • A successful repair requires acceptance from both parties.
  • The Gottman Doctors recommend a five-step method for revisiting a regrettable incident:
    • Identifying emotions during the incident.
    • Describing viewpoints while the other person takes notes and summarizes.
    • Identifying enduring vulnerabilities that were triggered.
    • Taking responsibility for contributions to the incident and apologizing.
  • To repair a relationship after a conflict, identify the problem, express feelings, take responsibility, apologize, and find solutions to avoid future conflicts.
  • Take an objective view of the situation and avoid blaming or analyzing your partner.

The role of sex in a relationship (01:22:25)

  • Sexual preferences vary greatly among couples, with some not wanting sex at all and others wanting it frequently.
  • Men who reject cuddling as "infantile" and only accept physical contact through penetrative sex often lead to conflict with their partners, who may feel deprived of affection.
  • Cuddling can be just as masculine as penetrative sex and can improve a couple's sex life.
  • Positive actions in a relationship, such as public displays of affection and playful activities, contribute to a better sex life.
  • Long-term passion and better sex are fostered by emotional connection and familiarity, rather than maintaining mystery and spontaneity.
  • Women need to feel psychologically safe and emotionally connected to be receptive to sex.
  • Many women have experienced sexual molestation or assault, which emphasizes the importance of safety and emotional connection for female eroticism.

Our society is becoming more sexless (01:29:58)

  • Hookup culture is thriving, leading to impersonal sex and a lack of emotional connection.
  • People feel empty after casual sex due to the absence of emotional intimacy.
  • Casual sex is comparable to masturbation.
  • Many couples engage in casual sex but are not committing to long-term relationships.
  • Factors contributing to this trend include witnessing parental divorce and women's increased participation in the workforce.

Men struggling to figure out where they fit into society (01:32:18)

  • Women are becoming more successful, which can emasculate men.
  • Men are still expected to be the financial providers, which can be difficult to achieve while also being an involved father.
  • The old myths that men who make more money have more status and value are still prevalent.
  • Women are still fighting for equality in terms of career opportunities and pay.
  • Men are struggling to figure out their role in society as women's roles have changed.
  • Women tend to be more unhappily married than men.
  • Non-cuddlers tend to have an awful sex life.

What do women really want in a man? (01:37:50)

  • Women tend to prioritize sensitivity, emotional awareness, and caring in a partner.
  • They also desire strength and protection, which may seem contradictory to the sensitive and emotionally open qualities.
  • Being strong doesn't equate to being unemotional; expressing emotions can require more strength than suppressing them.
  • Women still face safety concerns, such as rape, assault, and murder, making physical protection an important factor in their partner choice.
  • The desire for both emotional sensitivity and strength in a partner creates a contradiction for both men and women.

Talking about sex makes your sex life better (01:39:59)

  • Couples who talk openly and comfortably about sex have better sexual relationships.
  • The Gottman Institute created a kit called "Gottman Sex" with seven structured conversations to help couples discuss their sexual preferences and desires.
  • Men and women have different sexual fantasies, often linked to their trauma.
  • If one partner is not willing to fulfill the other's fantasy, they can describe it verbally to enhance sexual pleasure.

Betrayal in a relationship (01:44:30)

  • Betrayal is at the core of every failed relationship.
  • Betrayal can take various forms, including cheating and teaming up with someone against your partner.
  • Trust and commitment are essential for a healthy relationship.

The traits that show a failing relationship (01:45:14)

  • Criticism: Using words like "stupid" and "idiot" to attack your partner's intelligence or abilities.
  • Contempt: Expressing disgust or disrespect towards your partner.
  • Defensiveness: Becoming defensive when your partner expresses their concerns or feelings.
  • Stonewalling: Withdrawing from communication or refusing to engage in conversation with your partner.
  • Keep a notebook to record arguments and conflicts.
  • Actively listen to your partner's dreams and aspirations.

Asking your partner their dreams (01:49:20)

  • Asking your partner about their dreams can lead to surprising answers.
  • Some people are afraid to share their dreams due to fear of misalignment.
  • Dreams can change over time, especially after having children.
  • The book "Eight Dates" provides important conversations for establishing or improving long-term relationships.
  • Differences in dreams can be overcome with love and effort.

Advice to give a relationship its best shot (01:51:28)

  • Remember the "86% turning towards" rule: respond positively to your partner's bids for connection.
  • Avoid blame and criticism during conflicts.
  • Use "I" statements to express your feelings and needs.
  • Use the Gottman Card Decks app to facilitate clear communication of needs and desires.

The most interesting conclusions from the love lab (01:53:21)

  • The only way to be powerful in a relationship is to accept influence and be flexible.
  • Ask your partner once a week what they need to feel more loved.
  • Express love, affection, and gratitude to your partner regularly.

What does Julie mean to you, John (01:55:39)

  • Julie is the most important thing in John's life.
  • He loves waking up next to her and cuddling with her.
  • They are now grandparents together and enjoy watching their daughter be a mom.

What does John mean to you, Julie (01:56:36)

  • John has healed Julie from past trauma.
  • He makes her laugh and supports her dreams.
  • Julie admires John's intelligence and enjoys learning from him.
  • She loves his beautiful eyes and his signature leather hat.

Why did you write this book (01:58:38)

  • The authors wrote the book "Fight Right" to address the increasing polarization and hatred in society.
  • They believe that by teaching people how to listen to and love each other at home, they can create a ripple effect of love in the world.

The Last Guest's question (01:59:54)

  • Julie Gottman's parents had a difficult relationship, with her father being absent and her mother being critical and contemptuous. Her mother's childhood trauma and incest affected her ability to feel entitled to ask for what she needed.
  • John Gottman's parents raised him well but didn't fully support his sister's musical talent.
  • Both Julie and John Gottman believe their childhood experiences shaped their work on love and relationships.
  • The Gottman Doctors emphasize the significance of love and relationships for human happiness and health.
  • They advocate for approaching conflicts with a "problem versus" mindset rather than a "you versus your partner" mindset.
  • This approach is considered fundamental in finding the love that many people seek but find elusive.

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