The Four Horsemen

World-renowned researcher on marriage and relationships, Dr. John Gottman, discussed the four negative patterns that often sound familiar to fighting couples. According to him, these four elements predict divorce, and he called it “the four horsemen of the apocalypse.”

criticism

1.  Criticism: Gottman says criticism is “really a way of fueling the attack, so you state your complaint as an attack on the other person.” He noted, “It’s not constructive, it winds up leading to an escalation of the conflict.”

contempt

2.  Contempt: “Not only is contempt the best predictor of divorce, because it’s really this air of superiority. You need respect in a relationship.”

 

defensiveness

3.  Defensiveness: Gottman explains people need to take responsibility for the problem, and can say to the other person, “What’s your point? I mean, it makes some sense what you’re saying. Tell me more.'” Dr. Gottman points out that defensiveness gets in the way of two people working as a team to figure out a solution.

 

stonewalling

4.  Stonewalling is also known as the silent treatment. Gottman said, “The stonewaller is really trying to calm down and not make it worse, but when you’re faced with somebody who’s silent like that, you escalate. So, it’s a very disruptive pattern.”