Academic journal article Family Relations

Book Reviews -- What Predicts Divorce? by John Gottman

Academic journal article Family Relations

Book Reviews -- What Predicts Divorce? by John Gottman

Article excerpt

Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. 521 pp. Hardcover ISBN 0-8058-1402-7, price $49.95.

What Predicts Divorce? is a compendium of over two decades of research on marital stability and divorce by one of the most inventive and productive contemporary marriage scholars. But this book is more than just a summary of Gottman's research and theorizing. It is really an autobiography of his scholarly life, his very personal quest for understanding marriage. Gottman takes us, almost step by step, through the process of initial interest, conceptualization, design, data collection, analysis, and writing up of his research.

Gottman states that the purpose of this book is to build a new process theory of marriages. What makes things happen in a marriage? What are the dynamics? What makes things get better or worse over time? He extensively reviews a number of research literatures including social psychophysiology, marital interaction, problem solving, gender differences in marriage, and marital therapy outcomes. However, most of the book is a detailed description of his research on marital processes and marital dissolution. This is a massive work that could take months if not years to fully understand and appreciate. The findings are voluminous and at times overwhelming. The bulk of his findings are from his observational research based on coding videotaped interactions of married couples. He also has traditional survey data on his couples and adds two other approaches that help us understand marital process and dissolution. He measures physiological responses during interaction and conducts in-depth open-ended interviews with the couples.

Based on his research he develops a typology of marriage. Gottman suggests there are three stable adaptations to marriage-the validating marriage, the volatile marriage, and the avoiding marriage. He shows, for example, that conflict in and of itself (in a volatile marriage) is not dysfunctional, nor is the avoiding of conflict (in an avoidant marriage) necessarily dysfunctional. …

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