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Principle 6: Overcoming Gridlock


Overcoming gridlock, is a  principle in Dr. John Gottman's book "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work". This principle focuses on how couples can navigate through conflicts that seem to be unsolvable and prevent them from reaching a resolution.

Gridlock refers to a situation where a couple becomes stuck on a particular issue or disagreement and is unable to find a resolution. The more the couple discusses the issue, the more frustrated and distant they become from each other.

Dr. Gottman's research shows that gridlock is common in all relationships and can arise from issues related to finances, parenting, intimacy, career, and extended family. It's important to note that gridlock does not mean the end of a relationship but rather a normal part of being in a long-term partnership.

To overcome gridlock, couples need to follow certain steps which include:

  1. Identifying the gridlock issue: Couples need to identify the specific issue that they are gridlocked on and be specific about what each partner's position is.

  2. Understanding the underlying emotions: It's important for each partner to explore the emotions and beliefs that are driving their position on the issue. This allows for deeper understanding of each other and more empathy.

  3. Softening startup: When discussing gridlock issues, couples need to begin the conversation with a gentle startup rather than harsh or critical language.

  4. Accepting influence: Each partner needs to be willing to accept influence from the other and be open to changing their position.

  5. Compromise: Couples need to be willing to compromise and make temporary concessions to find a solution that works for both partners.

  6. Creating shared meaning: Once the issue is resolved, couples can work together to create a shared meaning around the solution that they arrived at. This helps to prevent future gridlock around the same issue.


The "Overcoming Gridlock" class offers practical tools and strategies for navigating through gridlock and strengthening the bond between partners.

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