Social scientists first started studying marriages by observing them in action in the 1970s in response to a crisis: Married couples were divorcing at unprecedented rates.

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Together, the renowned experts on marital stability run The Gottman Institute, which is devoted to helping couples build and maintain loving, healthy relationships based on scientific studies.

John Gottman began gathering his most critical findings in 1986, when he set up “The Love Lab” with his colleague Robert Levenson at the University of Washington.

Gottman and Levenson brought newlyweds into the lab and watched them interact with each other.

Every day in June, the most popular wedding month of the year, about 13,000 American couples will say “I do,” committing to a lifelong relationship that will be full of friendship, joy, and love that will carry them forward to their final days on this earth.

Except, of course, it doesn’t work out that way for most people.

The majority of marriages fail, either ending in divorce and separation or devolving into bitterness and dysfunction.Of all the people who get married, only three in ten remain in healthy, happy marriages, as psychologist Ty Tashiro points out in his book , which was published earlier this year.Having a conversation sitting next to their spouse was, to their bodies, like facing off with a saber-toothed tiger.Psychologist John Gottman was one of those researchers.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.