At last there is an answer to the question I've been asking since beginning my studies in psychology--"Isn't there anything ELSE?" There are many schools of thought that reign in fiefdoms of psychology, including systems theory, behaviorism, Imago, and psychodynamic to name a few. Each is dogmatic, and when tested across research studies, all can benefit patients (despite zealous claims to the contrary by the priesthoods in each camp). However, until I read The Marriage Clinic, I was not aware that our field has shown such poor results in the area of marital therapy. While individual psychotherapy tends to work, Gottman sites research to show that marital therapy does not create lasting change. This is serious.
Our current state of the art in marital and family therapy tends include unsatisfying, unnatural, and even ridiculous, techniques for clinicians to use with people facing the problem of how to improve their marriage. Thank goodness for people like Gottman, who actually collect data to inform decisions, and use common sense and humanity to understand and apply those findings. I see Gottman as our field's greatest living visionary, whose research and relationship building techniques will hopefully spread to parent-child relationships and IO psychology as well.
As to this book specifically, don't get it unless you are a clinician. If you are looking to help your own marriage, I suggest The Seven Principals of Making Marriage Work, which is very user friendly. The Marriage Clinic is quite technical in parts, and can be dense, however it is a very fun read. Gottman's personality and humor come through loud and clear. I found myself laughing out loud at times. I confess I enjoy how he exposes the senselessness of so much of the techniques we currently utilize, and backs it up with meticulous research. This book begins with a solid lit review, a discussion of Gottman's basic ideology and rationale, and then goes into the nuts and bolts of how to apply his ideas.
Even if you are not a marital therapist, it will change the way you look at relationships. He teaches a new vocabulary for describing what you are observing in relationships that I find exceptionally helpful. I would recommend this to anyone conducting psychotherapy, as it will improve your ability to make inferences about your patient's relationships. I also enjoyed the case vignettes very much. If you like Gottman, I highly recommend his books on parenting as well.