Book Review: Eight Dates

NEAFAST members uphold our responsibility to learning about current trends and up-to-date research in family and systemic therapy. Plus, we love to read. Here's the initial installment of our Book Review series: Eight Dates, by John and Julie Gottman. A big thanks to Katherine Manners for writing the book review.

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From the front cover: The authors “invite couples on eight fun, easy, and profoundly rewarding dates, each one focused on a topic crucial to a joyful relationship. The dates prepare couples to better address the challenges that inevitably arise in the make-or-break issues of work, money, sex, family, trust, adventure, spirituality, and dreams.”

The Gottmans have thought of everything. Beginning with the definition of a “date” as a “pre-planned time…focusing, talking and listening to each other” (electronics free!). Each date has a theme and provides not only suggested preparation but includes recommended locations or home activities all related to the weeks’ theme. Questions are provided to prompt discussion and through their use, the Gottmans promise will “deepen your understanding of one another, and the history and cultures you bring to your relationships.” This may be the answer for your clients who are seeking specific guidance on how to spend meaningful time together.

Because this is Gottman, the approach and the questions are profoundly researched, and data driven. They had over 300 couple participants ranging in ages 21-67, hetero and same sex, 25% dating, 11% committed, 32% engaged, 32% married.

There is a lot of work that went into this easily digestible book, and it seems there is little they missed in addressing each topic. For the couple having difficulty making time for one another, it may feel daunting as it does require work, planning and a commitment.

But isn’t that the point? Relationships do take work, planning and commitment. The Gottmans have made it as easy as possible for us to consider how.

In preparation for this review, my husband of 32 years and I didn’t follow all of the instructions, and only worked through about half of the guided questions on the first date. Even so, it turned out to be both a funny and surprisingly revealing conversation. My husband, a non-therapist, appreciated the accessibility and gentle provocation of the questions. We both came away feeling engaged, enlightened and looking forward to more!

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