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The Golden Map: Taking the Journey from Newlywed to Masters of Love

At the conclusion of our last workshop, 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work based on Dr. John Gottman’s curriculum, one of the husband’s commented that he wished they had taken our workshop at the beginning of their marriage. He said they could have avoided a lot of heart ache and struggle. Throughout the workshop Stephanie and I were so excited to see the break through his wife and him were having. You could almost see the light bulbs going off in those aha moments as they learned about effective vs. ineffective strategies in relationships and what the research shows really works in creating happy marriages. At one point I could see a shift in his eyes as we discussed principles and skills for how to build friendship and avoid the strongest predictors of divorce in marriage. I saw sad recognition in his eyes as we discussed some of those destructive patterns that so often lead to divorce as well as hopeful and curious eyes when we taught about more effective strategies to transform their relationship.

While Stephanie and I were supremely happy for them and their new start, his words stayed with me. I imagined him and his wife recently married and hopeful about their new lives together. All that hope and optimism at the beginning of relationships is the stuff of poetry and music. We have found our life mate and we love them and they love us. Hand in hand we embark on this life journey with them as we board the ship of marriage with them. Unfortunately, for so many couples this journey will not end well and their ship will run aground or sink. In fact, the odds are against us with approximately half of marriages ending in divorce in the US. These odds are even bleaker when we add to this dismal divorce rate couples who stay together, but are unhappy.

I imagine myself standing on the harbor as all these ships take off knowing that the majority of them will never reach their destination of a life together in happiness and love. The starkness of this realization can easily lead to pessimism or cynicism. During a recent conversation I had my divorced friend stated, “Marriage sucks!” Another friend of mine was telling me how much she appreciated dodging the bullet of marriage as she sees a lot of her friends getting divorced now. Is this correct? Does marriage suck? Is it delusional or naïve to get married and expect to live a happy life of love with your partners? Do we just hope we are lucky?

To continue our analogy, what if after some comprehensive research we discover that most of the ships that make it to their destination of a life together in happiness use “The Golden Map” created by a captain who is very familiar with the safest routes while those that run aground or sink used whatever map that was being offered for free during their day of departure. What would be the value of getting a hold of that Golden Map and at what point of your journey would you want to start using that Golden Map?

Back to that husband saying he wished they had taken our workshop at the beginning of their marriage because they would have avoided a lot of heart ache and struggle. I still feel the pain underlying those words. Sometimes from pain and suffering comes wisdom and a better way, which Stephanie and I wish for all the couples we serve. Stephanie and I also want to help as many couples as possible avoid a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering and to start from as early as possible using this Golden Map – the Seven Principles Program. We use it in our marriage.

To be clear the Seven Principles Program is not based on marriage advice from other couples, expert opinion, or something we dreamed up based on our experiences. The Seven Program is based on over 40 years of research with thousands of couples using rigorous research methodology. This research could predict with over 90% accuracy which couples will divorce and teaches principles, skills, and tools that can be used to avoid destructive relationship patterns. Moreover, it teaches couples how to cultivate practices that will strengthen their friendship, create positive sentiment towards each other, increase their skills for managing conflict constructively, and help them create a marriage filled with shared meaning, aspirations, and making dreams come true.

It is our hope to help as many newlyweds realize long lives of happiness, health, success, and love together.


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and Our 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work Program

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