Photo by Pritiranjan Maharana on Unsplash
According to John Gottman, there are 4 Personality Behaviors that RUIN a relationship. Most failed marriages had these running rampant.
Gottman calls these the "4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse" mostly to stir the drama that is real when these traits are injected into a relationship. I am showing you these traits because I want you to raise the bar on how YOU show up in a relationship. If you keep falling into the same old habits, you will continue to have the same problems in your relationships over and over.
1. Criticism - When we are critical of someone's behavior and pointing out their shortcomings, it will cause them to resent you. When we use language like "you always," or "you never" is opening the door for all the other horsemen to show up in your relationship. Be super careful when you feel that anger boil up in you. How can you have a conversation with love? That one shift will help you go from blame in a victim mode, to a creator of a more divine loving relationship.
I dished a criticism to my husband this morning. He was ultimately do me a favor by having us drop my car off for an auto detail. We were on the phone and not being very successful finding the location and we were both frustrated. When we were finally sitting in the parking lot I said to him "you are incredibly impatient this morning." YIKES. It didn't take me long to turn that lens back on myself. I realized I was also impatient by letting his shortness get to me. I sent him a text "I'm sorry we got off on the wrong foot this morning. I love you. XO Emoji kissy face, hearts."
Sometimes we just need to make amends as a small reset button, this prevents the other 3 horsemen from showing up. This tiny corrective move I made was critical to our relationship.
2. Contempt - This show up as disrespect, ridicule, sarcasm, mimicking, name calling, eyerolls, and just plain rude behavior. When this shows up on a regular basis in a marriage, it is the largest predictor of divorce. It is emotional abuse and we do not want or choose to be abused in this manner. Women become diminished, crushed, shells of their former selves. Sometimes you become so broken that you find it even harder to leave.
When contempt is present, no one is happy. The marriage becomes an unsafe place. The couple is now unwilling to be vulnerable to each other, no more sharing intimacy and soft loving words. Contemptment creates something that looks more like a warzone.
3. Defensiveness - Contempt and criticism creates the need for defending oneself. If you are being blamed or criticised for something, the natural feeling is to defend yourself. Sometimes that means you deflect blame or put it back on your partner. Kinda like throwing a hand grenade back and forth.
When we feel that defensiveness crop up, how can we learn to respond in a way that is not critical to your partner. How hard is it to just take some responsibility and simply apologize? Doing so creates more trust and builds security for your partner. Remember, their freak out is not about you, it is about themselves. Try to approach their outburst with love and you will receive love in return. It may take a minute, or even an hour. This is what love is, being willing to be a little bit raw and vulnerable. I believe THAT is the epitome of courage.
4. Stonewalling - This occurs when someone just shuts down. They have felt the full force of the other three horsemen. By now they feel like everything they say is going to create another fight, so they don't engage at all. They have turned inward and built a hard armour shell around themselves. At this point, they are trying to build whatever strength they can must to just get through each day.
Maybe it is the man that is doing the stonewalling, maybe he has completely cut himself off emotionally from the woman. This often leads to numbing behaviors like over drinking or cheating. I have seen a lot of men blame their wives because of their own bad behavior. They say they were "driven" to cheat. That's bullshit. But when you read these 4 Horsemen, you can see how they lead to this very path.
It is my sincerest hope for you, that you seek men that are brave enough to be vulnerable. So that you can create a relationship where you do not get past horsemen # 1. You yourself must also be willing to be vulnerable. Expose your own faults and mistakes with honesty and integrity so that he is safe to do the same. This creates trust and a much closer and intimate relationship.