The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work: #3 Turn Toward Each Other Instead of Away

The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work

By: John Gottman

“Turn toward each other instead of away.” Romance isn’t a Caribbean cruise, an expensive meal or a lavish gift. Rather, romance lives and thrives in the everyday, little things. According to Gottman, “[Real-life romance] is kept alive each time you let your spouse know he or she is valued during the grind of everyday life.”

For instance, romance is leaving an encouraging voicemail for your spouse when you know he’s having a bad day, Gottman says. Or romance is running late but taking a few minutes to listen to your wife’s bad dream and saying that you’ll discuss it later (instead of saying “I don’t have time”).

Gottman acknowledges that this might seem humdrum, but turning toward each other in these ways is the basis for connection and passion. Couples that turn toward each other have more in their “emotional bank account.” Gottman says that this account distinguishes happy marriages from miserable ones. Happy couples have more goodwill and positivity stored in their bank accounts, so when rough times hit, their emotional savings cushion conflicts and stressors.

The emotional bank account is a great metaphor for a very real concept. Bad times will come, but if the good outweighs the bad the relationship will survive. In the bad times we need good times in the rear view to look back on fondly and help us pull through. The “emotional bank account” is very important for those reasons and each time you turn toward each other instead of away you are making a deposit into your relationships account.

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