The Relationship Between Interpersonal Communication and Marital Satisfaction

The Relationship Between Interpersonal Communication and Marital Satisfaction

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John Gottman in his book argues that “a lasting marriage results from a couple’s ability to resolve the conflicts that are inevitable in any relationship (p. 28)”. In his arguments, John explores the relationship between interpersonal communication and marital satisfaction. By doing so, he advances two hypotheses aimed at addressing problems within a relationship. The first hypothesis is that there is an existing private messaging system between couples, which enhances communication in a healthy marriage. The second hypothesis is a dissatisfied married couple exhibits skill deficit in communication between them.
The second hypothesis is by no means new. In fact, it accentuates communication as the cornerstone of any relationship. In his book, Gottman identifies four potentially destructive communication styles and managing mechanisms in addition to signs of an impending divorce: harsh start up, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, flooding, and body language. However, to describe the destructive communication styles which directly contribute to the feeling of disconnection, isolation and distant by a couple, Dr, John effectively uses the Four Horsemen metaphor (p. 27), which depicts the end times in the New Testament.
He identifies the first horseman as criticism (p. 27). This includes character attacks and making global complaints (“You never...” or “You always…”). Criticism differs from simple complaints from either of the parties about a specific situation or behaviour. In fact, the way in which couples express dissatisfaction with each other over a given matter is hugely important in the determination of the direction of a discussion.
The second one is contempt (p. 29). This refers to the use of sarcasm, mockery, and a ran...


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...e other along with an incident that demonstrates the trait and then read the list to each other.
The third principle is learning to interact on a frequent basis (turn toward each other instead of away) (p. 75). According to Gottman, romance is not fuelled by candle-lit dinners alone, but with constant interactions with your partner in different ways. In the last four principles, Gottman focuses on the importance of communication, negotiation, and conflict resolution (p. 99-264).
In conclusion, Dr. John Gottman demonstrates how communication is vital in any relationship and not just marriage. Personally, I consider a relationship to be a reciprocating affair in which every party plays a role to sustain it. In the event of a conflict with my partner, my go to plan is not to criticise, but to give room for dialogue in order to establish the root cause of the conflict.

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