First of all, I just want to say a huge thank you to each and every single one of you who've bought my book, left a review, shared it with your friends. It's been incredible to see you all think like a monk.
And if you don't have it already, please, please, please go and grab your copy at Think Like a Monk book dot com where you can get audible Kindle. And I read through the audible myself. It's over 20 hours. If you could deal with my voice a little bit more than it's right there. But I can't wait for you to read this book. I put so much love and energy into it and I can't wait for you to train your mind for peace and purpose every day.
Check it out.
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First of all, I just want to say a huge thank you to each and every single one of you who've bought my book, left a review, shared it with your friends.
It's been incredible to see you all think like a monk.
And if you don't have it already, please, please, please go and grab your copy at Think Like a Monk book dotcom where you can get audible Kindle. And I read through the audible myself. It's over twenty hours. If you could deal with my voice a little bit more then it's right there. But I can't wait for you to read this book. I put so much love and energy into it and I can't wait for you to train your mind for peace and purpose every day.
Check it out.
Watch out for somebody who's unreliable and then doesn't apologize, doesn't take responsibility for it, or somebody who's unreliable over and over and over again. If it's a pattern, forget it.
You know, everybody can have an emergency every now and then, OK? But if it's pattern, you don't deserve that. You deserve much more.
You deserve somebody who's really there when they say they're going to be there with their whole being.
Hey, everyone, welcome back to you on purpose. Thank you so much for taking out time to be with us to listen, learn and grow on the number one health and well-being podcast in the world. Now, you know that I love being able to sit down with incredible guests that can share fascinating stories, insights and wisdom and practical tips on how we can live better. And I've been listening to all of you. You've got a lot of questions on love and relationships, on dating, on marriage.
And I thought, I know sometimes I can be giving you some advice on that. But a lot of the advice I give on that topic is from these two incredible, incredible thinkers and teachers who just happen to be married and in love as well. So I want to introduce you to our amazing guest today. First of all, Julie Gokmen, Judy is the co-founder and president of the Guttmacher Institute and co-founder of the Effective Software Inc, a highly respected clinical psychologist and author she sought internationally by media and organizations as an expert adviser on issues involving marriage, PTSD, sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence, parenting and cancer treatment.
Now she's the winner of the Washington State Psychologists of the Year. She's the co creator of the immensely popular The Art and Science of Love We Can Workshop for Couples. And she also co designed the National Clinical Training Program in Gottman Method Couples Therapy. She's the co-author of seven books, including most recently Eight Dates, which I can't wait to talk about, a central conversation for a Lifetime of Love. And of course, her amazing husband, John Gottman, the co-founder of the Gottman Institute and Effective Software and of course, known worldwide for his work on marital stability and divorce prediction, which again, is a fascinating subject that I can't wait to talk about.
He's conducted nearly 50 years of research with thousands of couples, and his work on marriage and parenting has earned him numerous awards, including for National Institute of Mental Health Research, Scientist Awards and American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
So he's the co-author of 40 books, including the New York Times bestseller, The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work. So if you are excited as I am, let's please welcome to On Purpose John and Julie. Thank you for being here.
Thank you. Thank you so much, Jay. It's a great opportunity.
I was just sharing with you earlier before we started recording officially that we briefly met at the Wisdom 2.0 conference a couple of years ago. I think it was in San Francisco. And I was most excited to hear you both speak because I've quoted your work on my podcast in my videos.
Your research is just so phenomenal. I'm so grateful to have access to it. And the work that you're doing is so meaningful that I'm so glad that my audience and community finally gets to hear from the source. So thank you for this time and opportunity. How are you both?
We are actually quite wonderful, which during covid we feel guilty to say, but we are doing just great. How about yourself, Jay?
I'm very much of the same. I feel like I've been able to really serve with my purpose at this time, and I think that that's really been where I found my certainty is feeling like I know what I'm meant to be doing and trying to help others, considering I'm healthy and well, how can I seven to go on and so very much of the same. And I want to start off with you may be something that you don't yourself. But Jon, I know that one of your favorite films is Sleepless in Seattle, and I want to know why.
And I also want to know what Julie's favorite film is as well to get your movie choices, because I'm a big movie junkie, too, so I'd love to hear your thoughts. Well, I love Tom Hanks monologue in that film where he's being interviewed and he's talking about his late wife. He's a widower. And he said he says that as soon as he touched her for the first time, it felt like coming home. But it was like no home he'd ever known before, and it was just magic, and I just love the line about coming home being how, you know, it's the right person.
That's the way I feel about my wife. Oh, I love that as beautiful lady.
And Judy, how about you?
Golly, well, I probably have to say Casablanca, another great romantic movie that's ancient and old and mildly racist, unfortunately, but it is a gorgeous movie of a deep love.
And yet, you know, love, new love, loyalty. Where does one stand? And it is quite deep. Music is terrific. And I've watched it, I don't know, maybe 100 times, along with Space Odyssey. Two thousand. Oh, yes, that's right up there, too. Good. It's. Thank you both. And I love how you both picked movies that are highly romantic and love filled in. The way I want to start this conversation is actually to ask you both about how you both met and how you've been managing to work together for so many years, because I think that that's an incredible achievement in itself.
As I was reading your bio and everyone can hear about the amount of projects you worked on together. So tell me about how you both met and how you started working together.
Well, I kind of made it a project thirty four years ago to just date as many women as I could. And, you know, I had dated 60 women in one summer and I was sitting at a coffeehouse and Julie walked in and I had the courage to go over to her and ask her if she would join me for coffee. And she did. And I was number sixty one. Sixty one.
I had a database. So it was just an amazing conversation. Most of the women I had met that summer, I couldn't even talk to and they didn't like my sense of humor. And we hit it off immediately and were laughing together very quickly and had this very intense conversation and it's never stopped. So, John, you invented Tinder. You invented the first version of that 60 people in a row. I mean, you had a database. You said that sounds like an online dating app to me in the making.
And so what made you so focused on my having to see, like, what did you just decide that you needed to be structured and you just needed to meet more people in order to meet the right person?
Like what was your thought process at that time before? I I've been divorced for about seven years and lived in a college town and Champaign, Illinois, and had a lot of trouble meeting women my age. I was in my 40s and so I had about four months before school began at University of Washington and I just moved to Seattle and I thought, you know, why not just take this time and see if I can make some friends or at least have somebody go to movies with and maybe find somebody.
So I kind of did it systematically.
I love it. It's great. I mean, I think it's- I can't wait to dive more into. And Julie, for you, what was your dating life at the time and what was it about that meeting with John that turned into this? Well, it was interesting, Jay. I, too, had been divorced for almost seven years. And I took some time off between college and grad school, then went to grad school, got a PhD in six years and just actually said a prayer, gotten my car in Southern California, had no idea where I was going to land and drove up, up, up, up.
And in San Francisco, my car was towed away. It was broken into, and I bought a Walkman to replace the cassette deck that got stolen. Didn't work, batteries didn't work. I figured San Francisco was not the place for me. So I kept going, landed in Seattle and was just happened to be on my way to a party, kind of dressed up and walked into this coffeehouse because I can't do anything socially without coffee and I met John.
And John was so, so much the vision of what I'd been looking for. He was incredibly intelligent. Obviously, he was hilarious. His eyes were gorgeous, he has these huge eyes. And we didn't talk about psychology at first, we talked about rituals I had explored with Native American tribes and he talked about a play he had written. So we found out we were both psychologists and the rest is history.
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I'm not a numerologist, but I feel that the number seven is very prominent in your life.
You both have seven years of divorce, and then six plus one is seven, too. So you're sixty first. Are there any other sevens and birth dates or wedding dates or anniversaries?
I'm April 7th, birthday. Very good. Very good. Not very scientific, but it's nice to find this.
That's so beautiful to hear that from both of you. And I guess how much emphasis did you put on that first day being a sign that this was going to be a long term thing, versus how much was that first day just a sign that, hey, I want to spend more time with this person. I think for me. Well, I'll share something with you. I had a vision of who I would meet about two years earlier from the back, and it was like a photograph.
And when John got up to pay the bill, I looked at the back of him and it was the photograph I'd seen two years earlier. So I thought, holy cow, I can't believe it. This seems to be the guy. But then the real cincher was when he walked me to his car or to my car and we walked past his car and mind you, his car had been voted the ugliest car in the University of Washington faculty parking lot.
I fell in love with that car. It was magnificent. It was such a beautiful, ugly car. And I loved it. And I knew that he was the guy for me.
I love that. That's beautiful. And John, how about you? What was it for you? Was it that first date that kind of set out when you start thinking long term because you've met 60 women already?
Or was it was it was a clear outlier for me and it was just so easy to talk to her. And I had a dream that weekend after I met her. And in this dream, she she was represented by a tiger who was prowling the forest. And the markings on the tiger were the same as the dress she was wearing when I first met her. And the tiger made me feel really peaceful. And that's one of my nicknames for Julie is Tiger.
And this is I mean. He's a fierce protector of our family. And I love that. She's my type.
What I what I find fascinating about this, and I really appreciate both your openness and honesty is just how how unscientific all these things are.
And don't tell.
And we got dream, and we got visions. And I love it. It's beautiful. And I really want to dive into your studies and your research that you've done. The like I said, that I find it fascinating and I love you that and that's what I love about both of you, is that you can also bring that personal human element to the research, which is so important for so many people to feel like their partner is connected to them in some deeper way as well.
So let's dive straight in. And I'm happy for both of you to answer the questions I asked you. For me, it's it's just hearing from both of you is is very meaningful and joyful for me. So if you want to add something to a question I ask for each of you, then please feel free, like there's no rules. I want to hear from both of you equally. So I the first thing I really want to talk about is the mistakes people make in successful or unsuccessful dating, because I feel like we're living at a time like now where especially my generation and the generations afterwards have more choice.
Like you had a database with 60 people. That's pretty impressive, I'm sure, for that time of people to have access to that much choice. But today it's very normal to a dating app or a website or whatever it may be for people to have access to unlimited numbers of choice in one sense. And so we've got so much choice. There's also just so much removal, like I'm sure you will, meet these women. You won't interact with them through a digital piece of technology.
Whereas today, we're seeing pictures. We're meeting about people before we even meet them. We get to judge them on multiple different angles of pictures, in holiday pictures, and all of this kind of stuff. Tell us about what the research is showing about the unsuccessful dating mistakes or dating mistakes that people are making right now?
Well, first of all, let us both say that all of the dating sites are not particularly successful at creating matches. Their algorithms really don't work. And I think some of the mistakes, some of the common myths that people make, let me just phrase it that way. When people are dating, they think they have to be compatible in as many ways as possible. That's a total myth, actually. It helps maybe to have some similar values or.
Dreams may be a couple that overlap, but what we've also found is that people can be very, very different and still have incredible relationships. So that's one myth. Another myth is that you have to be absolutely equal in level of attractiveness. No, that's not really true either, because most of sexual attraction has to do with pheromones, not just visual. Pheromones are little tiny chemicals that have to do with what you smell almost unconsciously from someone. What else?
Well, the data, which is about OK, Cupid, written by the guy who collected all the data, they had to set up fifty thousand encounters before two people would like each other. So it's a very inefficient system. And, you know, we need to really say that that's where our science of relationships is at its worst. We really don't know how to match people. We still don't know how to match people. We know what's wrong.
And Julie's pointing out this idea that two people who are the same, similar in their interests and so on are more likely to like each other. And that doesn't seem to be true, because I think it's it's not just that you have the same interest. It's how you relate to each other when you have that interest. So we love to kayak and we see a lot of couples going down the river, kayaking, screaming at each other and saying, you idiot, that's not how you do it.
So it's you know, they have the interests in common, but it's really how they communicate and and how playful they are, how much they enjoy each other's company, how open minded they are to one another. I think it's things like that that make, you know, make the difference. And we'd love to cite the t shirt study by Klaus Wedekind, a German researcher, where women smell t shirts that were worn by men for two days and they picked the t shirt that they thought smelled the best or the least worst. And it turned out that they pick men who are genetically most different from them, especially on the genes of the immune system called the major histocompatibility complex. So it's like women are really attracted to men who are. Heterosexual women are attracted to men who really are very different from them. So if you tried to pair them with with somebody who was just like them, they would find them unattractive. And the next study has been done with, you know, if you pair them with those men, would they like them better?
And the answer is, yes, they do. So that's kind of an interesting study saying that, you know, make choice is pretty complicated and there's a lot of magic in it.
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Yeah, know for sure. I mean, you already have it's already intriguing hearing it from that perspective because I agree that. Well, you are saying, Julie, earlier about how people are looking for people with similar interests. They're looking for people with similar backgrounds or similar upbringings, maybe so they've had similar experiences. That doesn't necessarily lead to success. But I guess the challenges, as you were saying, John, is that when people are going on these dates, they can't see the DNA, they can't see the the matchability.
What are the signs of what someone can be looking for? Because I think that's sometimes the struggle that a lot of what we're looking for has been almost masked by movies and music videos and media.
And so we kind of have this. I remember the first time I had a crush on a girl when I was like, you know, we were like 10 or 11 years old is because I've seen a movie where the guy was just head over heels for this girl. And I felt I had to feel that way. And so I felt so much of our feelings and emotions are love based on what movies we saw when we were younger or how our parents related to each other, maybe.
And so what are some of the things that we should look for in the beginning of a dating phase or beginning of a relationship? Great question.
Well, some of those things have to do with does the person you're dating listen to you? Do they ask you big open ended questions like how long have you been in Seattle is a closed ended question. An open ended question is, what do you love about Seattle, or what was it that really drew you to Seattle? So and then listens to the answer and actually remembers the answer, which may be more difficult for couples dating in their eighties, of which there are many.
But the younger you know, you want to really feel like you're your dating partner is interested in finding out who you are, not only superficially, but at a deeper and deeper and deeper level as you are comfortable, self disclosing.
And, in addition, is that person reliable? Do they show up when they say they're going to show up? Do they call you and thank you for the date, which is one of those kind of kind things to do afterwards. Do they show that they are interested or are they playing hard to get and mention all their other relationships? And sorry, I'm busy. I can't. I can't. I can't.
That that old unfortunate female stereotype of playing hard to get is not a great idea because it typically isn't sincere. It's not real if that person is really interested in the other. So and sometimes males will do that same thing. Not cool. Be straight, be honest. By straight, I mean honest and sincere, no matter who you're dating. And watch out for the person looking away, not really listening to you, looking at somebody else in the room, staring at somebody else, not really being attentive, being there. Look for hearing a little sharp, sarcastic remarks that aren't humorous necessarily.
They've got a cutting edge, watch out for criticism, watch out for somebody who's unreliable and then doesn't apologize, doesn't take responsibility for it, or somebody who's unreliable over and over and over again. If it's a pattern, forget it. Everybody can have an emergency every now and then. OK, but if it's a pattern, you don't deserve that. You deserve much more. You deserve somebody who's really there when they say they're going to be there with their whole being.
So trustworthiness, kindness, generosity, real interest in you. And I think also an ease of being able to be together. You can feel good to be together and you should feel a sense of love and affection. Well, no, not on the very first day, but eventually as a characteristic of that person, that a person is a loving person. I know one of the things that really impressed me about Julie was when she made dinner for me the first time I moved her cat off a chair so I could sit on it.
And the cat walked into the kitchen and complained and I could tell the cat was saying, who the heck is this guy? Who does he think he is? He moved me off my favorite chair. And I could tell that this cat was really being treated well by Julie, who is a very kind person.
Person, I really grew to love the cat we call her sassy. There are just those moments where you can tell that your partner is really a person of substance. Can I can I bring up one other thing that I really caution some of my clients to look out for, which is how do they treat somebody who's serving them?
How did they treat a waiter or server a waitress? How did they treat a clerk? If the person if the helper is delayed for some reason or can't immediately give them what they want, how do they respond to that? Are they understanding or are they patient or are they courteous? Are they kind? Or are they pulling a superior punch basically and cutting them down?
That is a great way to note the nature of somebody's inner being.
Those are those are great answers, actually, because I think what you spoke about that is the key, core values, like looking for trustworthiness, kindness, reliability. Often these are the things that we don't think about at all because they're so wrapped up in life, either just being physically attracted or just wrapped up in what they do for a living or what they're wearing, like, you know, all that kind of stuff. I wonder though, something you said Julie, really got me thinking was why is it that we're so attracted to people who play hard to get like, what is it that.
So I was just speaking to someone the other day that I was working with, and she was saying the same thing. She was like, I just want a wild card.
You know, I just want someone who's just like that keeps me on my toes, kind of feeling like, you know, someone who's got that kind of superiority edge to them, who may be a bit, you know, almost like arrogant or quirky, confident, but slightly on the side of that, playing hard to get. Why is it first of all, first question to both of you, why is it that we find that person so attractive?
And second of all, why do we keep chasing that person even though we know the negatives that come with it? Or what are the negatives that come with it? Great question.
I think the answer is complex and it depends on the individual, of course. So I'll stereotype just a wee bit. On the surface, that's what we've seen in movies. That's what we've seen on TV. That's what we've got kind of programmed over thousands and thousands of hours of that kind of demonstration of hard to get. But on a deeper level, you know, I've never found somebody who was really, really well loved in their earlier life, who has sought somebody who seems to be unavailable.
OK, so what that means is that when we're not emotionally comforted by either parent or caretaker, when our feelings aren't listened to, when our needs aren't listened to, when we're expected to be obedient and just be quiet and always be chipper and cheerful. But we feel distant, really distant from those caretakers who don't seem to know our inner world at all. That's what we grow accustomed to. And even though we don't want to repeat that, it it is like a magnetic draw.
It's like putting on an old coat that's full of holes. And it may be cold for us to wear it, but it's very comfortable because it's very familiar and we know how to handle it. We recognize it. As opposed to somebody who is right there, who's pursuing us, who obviously really wants us. That is like being on an alien planet. And it's very scary. And so we backway. Interesting. A lot of times, you know, compared to our generation, people today are having sex very quickly.
And part of the problem is that when you do that, you both secrete oxytocin after an orgasm and oxytocin makes you feel artificially safe and you ignore the red flags. It's also the hormone of bad judgment. And so a lot of times people are ignoring red flags like the person really isn't interested in you, you know, and you keep thinking it's going to be OK because that hormone makes you feel safe and secure and you don't see the red flags the person is sending saying, I'm I'm not trustworthy.
I don't like you very much. You know, I am an arrogant person and I will reject you. I'm a judge, a mental person, and I find fault with everyone. So you ignore those red flags. Unfortunately. I'm so glad you brought that up later. Yeah. I'm so glad you brought that up, because I think that's one of the reasons why when people have make up sex, for example, like whenever they argue it's the same thing happening.
Right. It's just substitute. And I think we hear this rhetoric of like, you know, you can't substitute a real relationship just with a physical relationship. But knowing the science behind is fascinating and and makes it completely clear that this is not a spiritual or a well-being tip. This is actually a scientific chemical reaction to what's actually happening. The way we convince ourselves that things are falsely safe. That's yeah, that's fascinating to hear it from that.
I've never heard that before. So I love that.
I want to I want to move on. We've talked about dating, which I think is really useful to everyone who is listening or watching right now. I hope that this is answering all the questions you've been asking me, and hence I'm asking the experts, Dr. John and Julie Gottman. And I want to recommend that book. And we will drive more into the eight dates, which is the essential conversations for a lifetime of love. I definitely want you to recommend reading that book, but I want to dive into more about now like long term relationships and marriage, because I think that as we progress through, I'm trying to take a chronological view to a relationship.
Can I say about this and I know, John, this is this is it. More in your field, but Julie, of course. I welcome your answers throughout. It's fascinating.
The through your research, you were able to predict with over 90 percent accuracy which couples were going to divorce, which was mind blowing, to me. That's incredible.
Well, I tell you, I was surprised by it as you are. So this is based on research that I did for over 40 years with my best friend, Robert Levinson, who's a professor of psychology at Berkeley, UC Berkeley. And Bob and I did some of the first research that collected physiological data from couples as they were talking to each other. And we just had them come in and and talk about how their day went after they've been apart for eight hours and deal with a conflict issue and a positive topic and then followed them for many years.
And we found that there was so it was really quite easy to predict the future of relationship. The first study, we really didn't have any predictions, but we found just serendipitously that people whose relationships didn't last had a much higher heart rate when they talk to each other. Their blood was flowing faster. They were sweating more from the palms of their hands. And what was making them more physiological reactive was that they were much more hostile to one another.
They were angry. They were contemptuous. They were defensive. They were critical of their partner. They put their partner down. And it was that escalation of negativity that really was related to what was going on in their bodies. They were in fight or flight. And so the combination of looking how they talk to each other and what was going on physiologically turned out to be a reliable predictor. And Bob and I did seven studies looking at this, looking at gay and lesbian couples, looking at couples in their 40s, in their 60s, following them for as long as 20 years.
Looking at one hundred and thirty newlyweds, Judy and I designed an apartment lab together in Seattle. And we watched these couples as they had their first babies and interacted with their babies and watch the babies develop, too. So that was the line of research. And it's been true that the prediction is very strong and marital interaction is very stable and has 80 percent stability. When we bring a couple in six years later, 12 years later, 18 years later, we find 80 percent stability over time without intervention.
And for the last twenty five years, Julie and I have been working together on how can we intervene and help couples? Can we prevent this relationship disaster? And we've been finding that we absolutely can. So that line of research really tells a wonderful story because we really can discriminate between the masters of a relationship and the disasters of a relationship. We can prevent the disasters and we can help people who are disasters, not all the time, but at least 80 something percent of the time, turn their relationships around.
Let me just add one thing. The moral to the story is that John and I are not relationship gurus. Take us down off the pedestal. The real gurus were the successful couples that we studied out of three thousand couples, a great big percentage of those were successful. And so the interventions that we then created later on, which we're now wrapping into an app with our company, Effective Software Incorporated, is based on what those successful couples did, which is miraculous.
They were the ones who really taught John and me how to have a good marriage as well as what we could then take and help other couples.
Yeah, absolutely. No, absolutely. But it is it is the studying of you're asking all the right questions. And I think that's why I value your study so much is because you're looking at people over a long period of time. You're looking at them through key transitions in their life, key changes in that. And that's where a lot of the pressure comes from. And, you know, I'm fascinated because you both talk about healthy relationships. You say that the practice of this five to one positive to negative ratio.
Can you elaborate on that?
And break that down for us so that people who may be listening to this right now and thinking, you know what, I kind of sound like one of those couples, like I kind of sound like one of those couples that we're probably going down the disaster. We're not quite there yet. We're going down that route. How can we kind of intervene almost through this?
Let me also add that. I've kept track of my own hypotheses over time, and it turns out I'm wrong 60 percent of the time. So Julie's right. It's really the data that are informing us. And, you know, we make a lot of mistakes and prediction. Mostly we're wrong. And if we didn't do the research, we think we were right 100 percent of the time. But we're mostly wrong. And it's the data that's correcting us.
So you want to answer that five to one? Sure. So, first of all, let's be really clear that five to one is a ratio applied to when you're discussing a problem, a conflict area, first of all.
And the ratio represents how many times you have a positive interaction compared to a negative interaction. And what we've learned is that the successful couples have at least five times as many positive interactions and responses to each other as negative ones. And by negative, we're talking about what we call the four horsemen of the apocalypse, things like criticism, contempt, defensiveness, totally shutting down and becoming totally nonresponsive, being more hostile toward the other person. And what this shows is that negativity, it's kind of like negativity weighs a whole lot, a whole lot.
So you've got to have five times as many positive things to outweigh that one negative thing in order to keep the relationship feeling good for both of you and for the conflict to feel more gentle and constructive and in ordinary, just kind of discussing the events of the day, for example, the ratio needs to be about 20 to one. So mostly, a nice, rich culture of fondness, appreciation, saying thank you a lot, giving each other compliments, really listening to one another, turning towards each other's little bids for interest or connection are really the secrets of those successful couples.
Well, and eye contact and nodding your head like you're doing as you listen. Yeah. I mean, is the positive things. Yeah, I'm very good. And the smile. All those nonverbal things really lubricate the wheels of interaction. Yeah.
No, I think it's everything you're saying is it's so wonderful to hear it from the data point of view. And I do really love the fact that you keep bringing it back to the data and the research, because that just gives me more confidence that all these habits and principles that we want people to develop, like emotional intelligence and the ability to listen and the ability to be vulnerable enough to notice beauty in your partner or congratulate them or celebrate them. I think these are such beautiful habits that are often seen as soft skills.
But actually from the data, they're very strong and powerful.
And what you're both saying, I'm intrigued actually, though, from what you both said, when was there a hypothesis you had or a belief that you think the world strongly has about relationships, that actually the data completely disproves what was like the most shocking or surprising one?
One of the ones that was really shocking was that when couples are talking about an area of conflict and they're neutral, they're not showing any emotion, that's good so that if you can stay calm and you can really present your point of view unemotionally, it turns out to be very constructive. So most people were saying, you want to see fire and passion, you know, otherwise it's a dead relationship. Not true at all. If you would if you could be kind and gentle and even neutral.
That was a good thing. So it was the the reflection of calm as they talk to each other that turned out to be so important. And that was really surprising.
But, on that, I want to be sure that our listeners don't think that expressing anger is a bad thing. Right. That is not true. So being passionate, being intense, expressing anger and so on is fine depending on how you voice it. So if you're expressing anger with an I statement that describes how you feel as opposed to pointing a finger at your partner and describing them as flawed or to blame, that's very different.
It's very different. So there may be a lot of passion in saying I'm furious about this, that blessed it. You know, I can't take this anymore. Well, you're describing yourself, and that's OK. That's a fine way to express anger. And anger is a very normal human emotion. So we're not trying to say that you should have a frontal lobe and become, you know, and become Dr. Spock. We're saying do your best to be calm, to be gentle, but also to be real with what you're feeling as long as you describe yourself and not go into criticism of your partner.
I think that's a great distinction. I'm really, really happy you made that point, because I think you're spot on that for a lot of people, they won't be able to achieve that neutrality. But if you are going to be anger, angry and passionate, then it needs to be reflective of how you feel as opposed to the other person's weaknesses or flaws or mistakes or wrongdoings. And I think that's that's such a that's such a useful thing to remember in an argument, such a thing to remember and argue it.
Because I think from a defensive point of view, it's so easy to start blaming the other person. And I love the way, Judy, you describe the five to one, because I think the reason why I like those small insights is because I feel ,for so many people, sometimes it's the opposite where someone does one thing right and five things wrong. But because they do one thing right, you kind of overshadow the five things that go wrong. That's not racial.
It's flipped the other way and that becomes your norm. You just become so grateful for that one thing that goes right. People must accept it, a challenging relationship in situation. So I really love the way you both clarified those. And you also say that sixty nine percent of conflicts in marriages are never solved, that, when when I read that, I was like, oh, I want to know why that is. But also what can couples do to really understand what it is that needs solving?
Because it's so true. But yeah. So let's go into why that is because couples argue they fight, they discuss. Why is it never solved, and second of all, how can we start solving this?
So, OK, great, great question. So this again came out of the data where when couples were brought in every two or three years and asked to discuss a problem, they would be discussing exactly the same problem for over 20 years. And the only thing that would change was their fashion and their hairstyle.
That was it. Now everybody's in sweatpants when they come in. Right.
So what we saw is that there were this sixty nine percent of problems that never got solved. And what we then understood is that, first of all, they're based on lifestyle preferences. So differences in lifestyle and differences in personality as well. And they often have, beneath the surface, they have some underlying dream, some underlying yearning that may be related to their earlier history, may be related to either positive history or negative history, traumatic history, sometimes, but often these perpetual problems, the positions have these deep seeded roots in them that also sometimes are existential, what gives that person a sense of meaning and purpose in life?
So we discovered that, no, we're not going to solve these problems, but what couples can do is develop their understanding for the other person's position at a much deeper level. And out of that understanding, develop compassion enough that they can then form little temporary compromises around the edges of the issue. So let me give you an example.
So John and I are very, very, very different. I'm super adventurous. John is an avid endorsement, as he likes to say. He hates going outside because he'll get dirty and stuff like that.
And I go climb mountains and go to Mount Everest, stuff like that when I'm 50. So when I, for example, when I told John that I wanted to take 15 women or 12 women and go to Mt. Everest base camp and celebrate turning 50 that way, he first said, are you absolutely out of your mind? And I said, yes, and I still want to go. And so we had a big discussion about that.
And the discussion included John asking me questions. And those questions are part of one of our big interventions. Questions like, are there any ethics values or guidelines that are part of your position on this? What's the childhood history or background that may be related to this? Why is it so important to you? What's your ideal dream here about this?
Is there an underlying purpose or life meaning for you? So, John, asked those questions, and in turn I asked him the same questions regarding his not wanting me to go. And by the end, of course, I won and I got to go.
And he didn't read into thin air about the nineteen ninety six Mt. Everest debacle until after I got back.
That's a great example. And I'm so glad you took my differences. And, you know, me and my wife, I would consider that we're also very different. My wife's a very rooted, grounded individual, loves also being around family and home and safe, secure environments. And I'm kind of high risk and like trying new things and experimenting a lot and and having new experiences. And I'm very kind of like flexible and adaptable constantly. I don't need a lot of sameness to feel happy.
And she kind of prefers that. And and we've been through so many changes on our relationship from moving country to moving homes to not being around family, and all of these changes that we've been through over the last four years that we've been married. And it's been incredible to have. And I think the problem is the people from the outside often think we're very similar. And hearing about how you overcome a difference and respect each other's differences and gain respect by having a conversation is so important because I think people just think, oh, well, if you don't want to come with me, then why? How can I be with you?
And you didn't want to go with John in the first place but you wanted to go with someone else, you know, like and I think that's that's great. Like just having that awareness is such a breakthrough because I feel like I feel like so many partners expect their partner to do everything with them and they want to share their favorite experiences.
So whether it's if I have friends who are hugely into a sport and they really want them to come with them. Or they have a hobby, like a few of my friends would always want their partners to be in the audience if they were performing or doing something. But often it's just not that it's not that person's not interested in you, it's just they're not interested in that thing. We hear this in relationships and there's no one better to ask than you because you can do with all the data. What is the role of compromise and does that even exist like what is compromise?
What is the right way of compromising and how is it affected? Go ahead. OK. That one, so we figured that one out, too, from the couples and from the data. So we call it the two oval method, otherwise known as the bagel method. So here's what it looks like. Basically, when you're trying to reach a compromise, you take a piece of paper. I'll give you just the exercise, how to do it.
You take a piece of paper, you draw a big bagel or donut on your piece of paper. And in the inner circle, you think about your position on this issue and you write down what aspect of my position on this issue can I not compromise on that is so true to my heart, my soul, who I am, my identity, that if I gave it up, I would be a bag of bones. I can't do it.
Then in the you write down what those components are that are part of your position. Then in the Outer Circle, you write down what are you more flexible about.
And people are typically more flexible about kind of the newspaper reporter questions: when, where, how, what, how much will it cost, how long will things last? When will it begin? Those more nitty gritty, detailed questions that people tend to be more flexible about. Then you come together, you share what you wrote down in your circles and then talk about where is their overlap, especially in the flexible areas, where is there overlap? So here's a compromise.
Let me give you. And explain that why those core needs are so essential to you so your partner can understand those and reflect them. Yeah, right. Right. Great. So an example of this was a couple who were getting ready to retire. They both wanted to sell their house, but one wanted to sail around the world. It was a heterosexual couple. So guess which one want to sail around the world. In this case, the stereotype fits. And it was the guy. The woman had a farm that had been in her family for over a hundred years, and she wanted to take her place living on the farm with her husband as a long line of ancestors had done before her. Where was the farm located?
Iowa. So how are you going to sail around the world from Iowa? This is not an easy thing. So when they divvied up their positions on the issue, they realized that there was a lot of flexibility about whose dream went first, how long would it last, how much would they spend, where would they go, etc..
And so they came up by overlapping and discussing those flexible areas, as well as discussing how to honor each others' dreams, which is very important here, that center circle for each person. They figured out that they would sail first for one year and get as far as they could. Then they put the boat up on dry dock, go to the farm, live in Iowa for one year and see how that felt. And at the end of two years, they would have both honored, had their dreams honored and supported by the other person, and then they would figure out what to do next.
That's how compromise works.
Yeah, that's beautiful. I love the love that I remember when I first got the opportunity to move to New York for my work. And this came as a surprise a month after we got married and bought a house five minutes away from my mother and father in law because my wife told me our whole relationship that she would never, ever want to move further than five minutes away from her parents. And a month later, after we got married, I get this.
This is four years ago. I get this huge career break that literally changed my life and and is what I would call that core priority of life, something I would never negotiate on, because it's so important to me and I can't say no to it.
And my wife didn't talk to me for two days. We've talked about this publicly before. She didn't talk to me for two days because she was processing and figure out what it meant. But it was so interesting cause I remember saying I said we will fly you back every week or every weekend or every month, if that's what it takes for you to feel that you can be in both places, or I can go and you can stay here and we can see how that works and then we can figure out what works for both of us.
And thankfully, we've both been living in the States for the last four years. And my wife. It's one of the best decisions she's ever made. But in the beginning, it was really, really tough to figure out what was the right thing to do. And I'm grateful for her approach. We actually did that in a very informal way. But those stages sound very close to how we processed it. So that's very reassuring, very reassuring to hear that. What a great way of defining compromise, because I think people throw around the word compromise and they just think it's them begrudgingly doing what the other person wants.
Right. That's not a good definition.
That's surrender. That's not compromise. Yeah, absolutely.
OK, so I want to move further on in the chronology of a relationship. And I want to ask an extreme question because I think so many people unfortunately deal with this today. It's like what do you do when you find out that your partner is cheating on your. I hear about this far too often, both in marriage or in just dating. And and I feel so many people, unfortunately, go through so much pain in that scenario because they might have children, they might have family involved.
You know, whatever it is, it's never easy. And so what does the data and research say around when you find out your partner's had an affair? What's been the best way of operating that? One of the next moves from that situation and works?
OK. Well, first of all, we have done some research on that. And there have been other people who have written about it. One in particular is named Shirley Glass, who was IRA Glass's mother, a fantastic psychologist. And she treated affaire couples throughout her career and wrote a book called Not Just Friends, which was a fabulous, fabulous book. And what she recognized and we also saw this in our work, is that the person who's been betrayed suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, which means they can't control the thoughts of their partner with somebody else. They are coming into their mind all the time.
They're alternating between emotional numbness and then exploding. They are jumps beside themselves with the pain of it. And their whole world has vanished. So what has to happen that John and I are now doing a study on, but we've really seen thus far clinically, anecdotally, really seems to work, is a three couples who want to who want to change their relationship after the cheating.
Right. OK. It's a three process that takes a therapist, you need a very good therapist, who is not in the pulpit judging because both people are human, people make mistakes and both people need to feel supported and compassion from their therapists. So first, we call it the atonement stage, where the person who was betrayed begins by asking the person who had the affair any questions they want to about the affair, aside from asking the specifics about what kind of sex did you have? Because if they asked that last question, they're bound to have more pictures come into their mind. They will traumatize them even further. And that's not going to be helpful.
But asking how much did you spend? What did you buy him or her? Where did you go overnight and so on. So asking a lot of questions. And that person also needs to be supported to express their feelings about the affair. They have to express those feelings. And again, by saying, I feel so betrayed, I feel destroyed. My whole world has blown up and not here defensiveness in response, not talk about the marriage yet.
Not yet, but instead respond with empathy, with sorrow, with remorse and ask maybe over and over and over again, not necessarily for forgiveness, but saying, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry. And the other partner who has been betrayed hears that, and that that may take a while. Then. And again, PTSD has to be underscored as part of what may be causing the explosions at home when images come in or a nightmare happens, the person may explode the next day. So that's PTSD going on.
Then finally, after atonement calms down, you move into what we call attunement. An attunement is finally the stage where you're talking about the marriage itself and what went wrong. And what we've seen is that typically most affairs are about feeling lonely. They're about feeling empty, they're about not feeling listened to. They often occur in marriages where the conflicts have been so awful that people have stopped expressing what they need and then they get lonely.
And so after a while, that loneliness takes hold of one and that other person starts to talk to somebody else of whatever their sexual preference might be. And eventually that friendship moves into something else. What Shirley Glass says that I love is that the walls and windows get reversed. In a healthy marriage, there needs to be a window open between the two partners with a wall around the couple that protects from outside influences of other people, other partners. Those get reversed where the person doing the affair is opening a window to the affair partner and closing off the marital partner, so that's why affairs happen, so you relook at the marriage, you process past regrettable incidents, bad fights they had that never got resolved.
They talk about their conflicts and relearn how to talk gently and compassionately about conflicts so they're not so afraid to have them. They develop new rituals of connection. They work on their friendship, on turning towards each other's needs, expressing their needs, and then things can get better over time.
And finally, in the last phase, which is called attach or attachment, they then hopefully recommit to each other and to the marriage. That may be the stage for some couples, not for all where they reinitiate having sexuality again in their lives together. And things are deepened during that phase in terms of loyalty and commitment. That's how you do it. Takes a while.
Oh, for sure, no. And I love the the stages because I think there was just so much patience in what you say. And if you are trying to make it work for you, even if you're trying to move on, it's going to be a patient process.
It's always nice to be able to be aware of what stage you might at or which step you might be moving into. I want to be respectful to both of your time. And I want to say today is absolutely mind blowing. This is incredible. I feel like I feel like we need to do multiple episodes a year where we dive deeply into all different aspects and facets of a relationship. Because I've learned so much today and I'm so excited for my community and audience to hear this one, because I feel like it's just going to help them and guide them so much.
And I want to make sure that we direct them in the way of your books and work that you feel is most useful to them. So where should they go? If people want to learn more about all this incredible research and data and apply it to their lives, where should they start and where should they go?
What do you recommend? In the area of affairs, the book to get is What Makes Love Last by him. Yeah, I, John Gottman. And and part of what Julie hasn't talked about is that in order to really develop this therapy to help couples who want to stay together after an affair, we also have to study couples who maintain loyalty and avoid betrayal. So you can't understand one side of a process without understanding the other side. And that's how we really built this therapy.
OK, so one place you can go is www.Gottman.com, Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love is wonderful to explore not only this new relationship, is it terrific, but maybe one you've been together a long time and is a little stale, you can deepen that relationship as well. And we're also we're creating, especially because of Covid, we're creating an app that puts all of our interventions and exercises and assessments of relationships , too, to help couples that is much cheaper than workshops and therapy. We want to democratize people's access to relationship help, and that's through effective software within a Affective Software INC So those are all places to go to learn more.
I love that. I'm so glad you're doing that. I think that's going to be so useful to people. And I can imagine I can't wait to share to my audience. I think my my community would absolutely love tools like that.
That would be helpful. It's a digital world, despite me being TI, which is called technologically impaired. Incredible, I love hearing that. And we end on purpose every episode with what's called a phosphide, which means every single one of these questions has to be answered with one word or a maximum of one sentence. These are like super fast five. You can buy one after the other. So the first question is, what was the biggest lesson you learned in the last twelve months?
That's a one sentence. That I love staying home. How about you? How much I love you. I love that I can I can I'm I'm definitely more like you in the relationship. I think I tell my wife I love her like a million times a day, so I guess I can see it is.
OK. Second question, what was the last kindest thing your partner did for you? Mm hmm. Let's see two things. In order for me to do clinical work for eight hours today, he took our new puppy this morning, fairly early, to doggie day camp, which is an hour round trip, and not only that, but he went and picked him up. I love that. Yeah. I mean, she made a wonderful dinner last night, you know, and we sat and watched TV together eating our dinner and playing with our puppy.
So I love it. Question number three, what's the best place to meet someone today? God, that's a good question. Oh, holy cow. What's the refits, I'm fascinated by that because I feel like that's such a big question, I would love for you to research that because the number one question people tell me is that when I can meet that person, where do I find them like, I get those a lot. How about a political protest? We can ask on. Just where, if you like wearing makeup, wear a lot of makeup.
All right, John, do you have an answer for that? If you can make a law that everyone in a relationship has to follow, what would it be? Never give your partner unwanted touch, i.e., violence or sexual abuse.
My answer would be adopt the motto that when your partner is in pain or stressed and wants to talk about his or her feelings, the world stops and you listen.
And the final question of your phosphide. If there's one thing that couples should avoid in relationships, what would that be? Contempt. Contempt, meaning not only putting down your partner with a criticism, but doing of doing it from a place of superiority. It not only fries the relationship, it hurts the immune system of the listener.
Absolutely. And the speaker. And the speaker, a little less so. How about you? One thing to avoid. Taking your partner for granted. Great answer. Good. Fantastic. John and Julie, you are amazing. This was so much fun and everything, like I said, I think people are going to benefit so much. I can't wait to share it. I can't wait for your app, effective software, as you said, and I can't wait for it. And thank you so much to both of you for taking this time and being with me and really, really looking forward to meeting again in person.
And I hope we can do another interview and at some point as well. That'd be great, Jay. Thank you so much. I appreciate you both so much.
And your questions were deeply intelligent and beautiful. Thank you. Yeah.