The Love Prescription: Seven Days to More Intimacy, Connection, and Joy (The Seven Days Series)
“There isn’t a marriage or romantic partnership out there that won’t benefit from this book.”
Whether you’re looking to fix specific problems or get the most out of your marriage or romantic relationship, couples therapists John and Julie Gottman will get you moving in the right direction. Authors of numerous books on love, their approach to couples therapy is based on years of clinical practice, decades of scientific research at the Gottman Institute and Love Lab, and their personal experiences in their 35-year marriage.
The Love Prescription encapsulates the evidence-based theories and ideas behind the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy, broken down into a seven-day action plan based on a simple notion: “Tiny little doses, every day, is what it takes to make a healthy relationship.”
They explain that “Good relationships strengthen everything—boost your mood; give you a solid bedrock from which to tackle your day, your goals, your dreams; bring down the amount of stress hormones in your body; and counteract all those things that can shorten our lives or make them less vibrant: loneliness, depression, disease.” And they remind us that “love is the important thing—the thing that makes everything else more possible.”
Because the authors have been researching what makes relationships succeed or fail for more decades than many readers have been alive, they liberally cite research from the Love Lab and Gottman Institute to support their recommendations. Using evidence-based predictions based on their studies—across various ages, cultures, races, and genders—they describe which personality traits and transactional styles are most likely to make for smooth sailing in relationships and which are most likely to tank them.
Viewing love as an ongoing practice, the Gottman’s teach partners how to change their relationship habits by focusing on one positive, simple, mundane behavior each day for seven days. Day 1, Make Contact, can be as simple as smiling, looking your partner in the eye when talking to them, or sitting next to them on the couch to watch TV. Day 2, Ask a Big Question, is about rolling back the clock to when you were dating and couldn’t wait to learn more about what this wondrous person was thinking, feeling, and doing.
Day 3, Say Thank You, focuses on going out of your way to show appreciation for your partner, whether they’ve gone out to pick up a grocery item you forgot or simply held the door open for you. Day 4, Give a Real Compliment, emphasizes expressing what you admire and adore about your partner—from the way they miraculously never seem to lose their cool with the kids to how easy they made it seem when they turned a hobby into a lucrative career.
Day 5, Ask for What You Need, explains why it’s crucial not to expect a partner to be a mind-reader, but instead to tell them your wishes even when doing so makes you feel scared and vulnerable.
Day 6, Reach Out and Touch, encourages readers to be more physical, which does not necessarily mean sexual, including holding hands, foot rubs, and pats on the back. Day 7, Declare a Date Night, advises us to think of date nights not as “requirements but as investments” to guaranteed to revitalize and nourish partnerships. Each chapter ends with practice exercises, and the book provides space for journaling if the reader is so inclined.
The authors use case studies and clinical examples from their therapy practices to make strategies come alive and underscore how “fleeting moments” can turn around flailing or failing romances more quickly than expected. They also openly share the tribulations and triumphs of their long marriage as concrete examples of how using their practices creates the relationship both partners want.
This book has many strengths. The main one is the simplicity and brevity of its action plan: changing one habit each day for one week. As long as no abuse is going on in the relationship and both partners are on board, it’s a place to begin—even if this cycle needs to be repeated—and a way to kick-start an upward spiral of love, respect, and caring connection. Following the evidence-based practices laid out by the Gottmans makes a lot of sense either as an adjunct to individual or couples counseling or as a last-ditch effort before entering more in-depth therapeutic work. There isn’t a marriage or romantic partnership out there that won’t benefit from this book.