Growth Perspective

Additional Information for Chapter 2, page 23

The Compatibility Code does a good job identifying the importance of having growth mechanisms in place to support an excellent marriage. In this section we explore different methods of ensuring growth and at the end of this section we identify some books that are particularly good at encouraging it.

Books and other printed resources: There are at least two ways that good books may be processed:

  • Each spouse may read through a book (or articles) on their own. The difficulty of this is that it is much too easy to say “yes, yes” to material that you read, do absolutely nothing about it, and quickly forget that you ever read it.
  • Spouses may read a book together: This pattern might involve one partner reading a portion of the book aloud while the other listens. After the reading the couple may discuss what was read and (much more important) apply the material to their lives. Certain books are designed to stimulate discussion and to be applied to the relationship. John Gottman’s books are excellent examples of this format.

Videos, DVDs, CDs, talking books: These options represent a supplement to reading books. Essentially you are processing similar material in a different format.

  • Videos or DVDs share the advantage that you can watch together and stop the program at key points to discuss issues and determine ways to apply the material to your own lives. You can also do the same after a particular DVD or Video is completed.
  • CDs and talking books are typically processed when doing other things. While it is possible to stop and discuss content together, it is more typical to listen when driving, doing household chores, or other passive activities. As such it carries the same risk as “just reading a book”. If you listen only once the material is quickly forgotten and seldom applied. One way to overcome this (assuming that the material is worthy) is to listen to the same CD or tape many times. In this context it becomes a part of you and some applications of the material to you and your relationships are almost inevitable.

Marriage Enrichment seminars: A variety of seminars are available to enhance relationships or to improve your marriage/relationship. These have several advantages and disadvantages:

  • You and your spouse/partner can attend together and most seminars will urge discussion of material and application.
  • If fortunate you are working with experts in the field who have a sound knowledge base and have worked with hundreds of couples over the years.
  • The fact that it is often expensive underlines the urgency of getting your value out of the seminar. If you pay for it you are more likely to thoroughly process the material and make application. Free seminars are often enjoyed but then forgotten. I purchased the Great Books of the Western World (100 greatest authors of all time) when just out of college. The cost was painful and took at least a year to pay off, as a result I have read many of them. If I had just received the set, it is unlikely that I would have accorded them the same value, or, read nearly so many of the books. So, if the credentials of the seminar or the facilitators is top notch, be willing to pay more for the additional benefit.


These cautions apply to any of the three sources of information presented above:

  • You have no guarantee of the qualifications of the presenters. There are many public speakers, seminar facilitators, and authors who are persuasive, entertaining, and look wonderful. This does not mean they are necessarily expert in their area area. When you’re working on a marriage, your main interest is that the information is valid and applicable and helpful.Check carefully the credentials of whoever is presenting the seminar. Just because they have a degree behind their name doesn’t necessarily mean they are expert. In today’s shady world, a Ph.D. may be purchased. If you have the money an unaccredited institution will provide a Ph.D. for “life experience” or “past work”. Whenever I mention my Ph.D., I make sure the initials “UCLA” follows it. UCLA consistently ranks as one of the 5 best Psychology programs in the world.

    Finally, consult objective sources about the quality of the product. Don’t just look at the presenters advertising brochure or web site, of course they are going to say they are great. See if there are legitimate psychologists who can vouch for the quality of the program in question.

  • Use due diligence. Make sure the book, video, CD, or seminar fits your needs. If your issue is conflict resolution, make sure that is the primary topic of your source. If your issue is pre-marital compatibility, don’t get a book or CD on how to make anyone fall in love with you. In almost all areas of life, it is useful to do your homework to make sure the product will fit your needs.

The Importance of Pattern

The issue of pattern: We speak in the book about a pattern of activity associated with marital enhancement. A pattern that Elizabeth and I follow (with some gaps) is to spend about 10 minutes a day reading from a book designed to enhance our relationship. The pattern changes with our life circumstances. For instance, as I write, Elizabeth and I read Tuesdays and Thursdays (due to scheduling constraints). The time is indeed about 10 minutes and our current book is The Relationship Cure by John Gottman-a stunningly insightful book on “bids” (one person’s request for attention) and “responses” (how we respond to the bids). Come summer we’ll step up the tempo, but even 20 minutes a week provides rich material for consideration and application.

Which pattern you follow is not nearly as important as the fact that you HAVE a pattern and stick to it. Quality of marriages do not grow on good intentions but on solid and reasonably consistent processing and application of good material.

Here are books we have found excellent to be read together. We include a link to for each.

Exceptional Books to Assist Growth

The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work, By John Gottman and Nan Silver
This book, by the master (John Gottman) is good for couples to read and discuss together. You get to know each other well and begin to understand many principles of relational success

The Relationship Cure, by John Gottman and Joan DeClaire
The focus of this book is on improving communication and establishing connections by an understanding of “bids” and “responses” to bids.

The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman
The focus is on which actions (broken into five categories as the title suggests) bring pleasure to your partner and how to incorporate them into your life.

The Five Love Languages for Singles, by Gary Chapman 
Same principles as The Five Love Languages, but, as the title suggests, this explores how to express love in a non-married context. As a Christian author, Chapman bases this book on scriptural principles.

The Compatibility Code, by Elizabeth and Darren George
For US Dollars: 
For Canadian Dollars:
This is, of course, our own book. But it is designed to identify foundational relational principles, and provide a variety of exercises to help with application and discussion.

The Exceptional Seven Percent, by Gregory Popcak 
This book is chock full of fascinating (and largely valid) ideas about how to have an exceptional marriage. It is not an easy read because Popcak crams his book full of so many new ideas. It is however a wonderful source of principles of marital success. Elizabeth and I spent a year reading the book aloud and found it very useful.

The Art of Loving, by Erich Fromm 
Erich Fromm’s 1955 classis has now been in print for 54 consecutive years. What is love, really? The book will enlighten you and stimulate discussion between you and your partner.

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