What if you could predict if a couple was going to divorce well before the final papers were signed? And what if you could do so - with 93.6% accuracy? In 1992, Dr. John Gottman did just that. Dr. Gottman runs The Love Lab in Seattle, one of the leading research facilities in marriage and couples therapy.
From his study, he discovered four characteristics – the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, as they became known – that indicated just how well a person’s marriage would last. Below are the four factors you need to know in order to protect your marriage.
Everyone has complaints in their relationship, but there’s a big difference between:
- “I hate when you go on and on about work,” and ...
- “All you ever do is talk about yourself! You’re so selfish!”
Can you see the difference? Criticism isn’t just stating a complaint; it’s stating your complaint as a defect in your partner.
This is the single strongest indicator that a relationship is in danger. Contempt means that you feel superior to your partner, and put them down by saying things such as, “You’re an idiot!”
When one partner acts superior to the other, it creates an atmosphere of inequality and hostility that does not allow for love.
“Playing the victim” can also be very damaging to your relationship.
Reacting with righteous indignation - “It’s not my fault!” – only raises tensions and does not resolve the conflict.
If you or your partner becomes a like a rock in your arguments – unresponsive and silent – you may be hurting your relationship.
Emotional withdrawal is not only detrimental to communication, but also leaves both parties feeling lonely, distant, and frustrated.
Addressing these issues with a therapist or counselor before they can develop any further can help protect your relationship from the dreaded Four Horsemen of divorce.
For more information on John Gottman’s original research, you can visit his webpage at gottman.com.