John Gottman, famed marriage researcher in Seattle, has said that he can predict, with a 94% accuracy rate, if a couple will divorce or not just by observing 15 minutes of their behaviors towards each other. From his research lab, he’s distilled his observations down to 4 key relational components that will destroy a relationship. These are the Four Horsemen. If he detects these issues in a relationship, his research suggests that left unaddressed, the relationship will fail.
1. Criticism. A Focus on a specific behavior(s) that intends to blame and/or assassinate (defame) your spouses character.
2. Contempt. Shows disgust with the other by way of sarcasm, cynicism, name calling, eye rolling, mocking, and or hostile humor. This is the most damaging of the four.
3. Defensiveness. A posture of blaming your spouse/partner. Deflecting responsibility or ownership and pointing a finger at the other; “it’s not me, it’s you.”
4. Stonewalling. Happens by tuning out or ignoring the other. Looking away, down, or off into space, thus removing yourself and presence from the room or conversation. This is a passive-aggressive approach to conflict.
Which of these do you use the most? What do you need to do to stop this behavior and communicate in a productive and constructive manner?