A few of my favorite things about this book:
1. The principles progress from the ground up. You do get to the hard stuff but you don't start there. First, you work on strengthening the foundation of your relationship, the friendship, fostering warm feelings toward each other. It's as though you're strengthening your coping skills for when you start to address the difficult issues, so you are better equipped to deal with them. Later in the book you are invited to address those unresolved hot conflicts that have plagued your relationship for years, and actually get somewhere.
2. There are questionnaires and exercises in every chapter. After reading about the concepts, you have a chance to self-assess areas of your relationship with questionnaires. Who doesn't love self tests? Then, there are quick and fun activities to help you put those concepts to practice in your own relationship. You are not just reading, you're doing, and that feels like progress toward change and healing.
3. The Emotional Bank Account concept. The authors use the metaphor of a bank account to talk about balancing positive and negative interactions in a relationship. A traditional bank account can avoid being overdrawn as long as withdrawals do not exceed deposits. If you take $1 out, you have to put $1 in to retain your balance. This ratio does not hold true for the Emotional Bank Account. Through their research, they have found that for every one negative interaction (withdrawal), a couple needs to have at least five positive interactions (deposits) in order to stay in balance. It's easy to see what's wrong, but very important to see and express what's right.
4. There are solvable problems, and then there are perpetual problems. It is human nature to want to fix problems. Yet, not all problems are able to be fixed. The good news is that doesn't mean you're doomed for a lifetime of the same fight over and over. You learn to tell the difference between the solvable problems and the perpetual problems, and then learn the tools to deal with both kinds. Basically, how to solve the solvable problems and understand and avoid aggregating the perpetual problems, much like a bum knee.
For more information about the Gottman Method, visit The Gottman Institute website.