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Keeping Score

John Gottman, Ph.D.

One of the myths that has really made a lot of sense to people was the idea that in a good relationship there's an implicit contract. It doesn't have to be stated, that if I'm nice to my partner my partner's going to reciprocate and be nice to me. Maybe not immediately, but if I put a lot into this relationship I'll get a lot back. That there's kind of a quid pro quo - an exchange of positive for positive that takes place in a good relationship. Well actually, when Bernard Merstein started studying this, not only in marriages but in friendships, he found that people didn't have the quid pro quo way of thinking unless the relationship was ailing.

So, for example, if your friendship's not going well you're going to say how come we always invite them over. They never invite us over. How come I always give a gift and I get this crummy gift back? You become an emotional accountant when the relationship is ailing. When it's working well, you're not an emotional accountant. You just give the gifts …you do it in a natural way. It's not give to get. It's really give.

Sol Sigall

My wife's happiness is my prime purpose in life. It isn't sufficient that I tell her this over and over again. More importantly, I have to show her in as many ways as I can that I mean what I am saying when I say that.

The other philosophy, that I am sure most married people have learned is that marriage is not a 50/50 proposition. It is at least an 80/80 proposition, I know it adds up to more than 100%, but what I mean by that is you must be prepared to do more than your share.



"It's not give to get.
It's really give."