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For example, each member of a couple could be talking about how their days had gone, and a highly aroused husband might say to his wife, “Why don’t you start talking about your day.It won’t take you very long.”The masters, by contrast, showed low physiological arousal.When the researchers analyzed the data they gathered on the couples, they saw clear differences between the masters and disasters.The disasters looked calm during the interviews, but their physiology, measured by the electrodes, told a different story.
It’s not that the masters had, by default, a better physiological make-up than the disasters; it’s that masters had created a climate of trust and intimacy that made both of them more emotionally and thus physically comfortable.
Gottman and Levenson brought newlyweds into the lab and watched them interact with each other.
With a team of researchers, they hooked the couples up to electrodes and asked the couples to speak about their relationship, like how they met, a major conflict they were facing together, and a positive memory they had.
For the past four decades, he has studied thousands of couples in a quest to figure out what makes relationships work.
I recently had the chance to interview Gottman and his wife Julie, also a psychologist, in New York City.