4 Signs of a Terminal Relationship

It’s important to note what are good habits to have in a relationship but it’s also essential that we know what are the key behaviours to avoid. Again, this week’s post follows on with the work of Dr. John Gottman and Nan Silver. Check out their books if you get a chance. They are well worth it - I’m a big fan, as you can probably tell!

This post relates to what he calls the Four Horsemen! By that they mean the four types of behaviour that we need to avoid to have a healthy relationship.

The presence of the four horsemen alone predicts divorce with only 82 percent accuracy. But when you add in the failure of repair attempts, the accuracy rate reaches into the 90s
— Dr. John Gottman

1. Criticism

“A complaint only addresses the specific action at which your spouse failed. A criticism is more global - it adds on some negative words about your mate’s character or personality.”

2. Contempt

“Sarcasm and cynicism are types of contempt. So are name-calling, eye rolling, sneering, mockery, and hostile humor. It is the worst of the four horsemen.”

3. Defensiveness

“Defensiveness is really a way of blaming your partner. You’re saying, in effect, ‘The problem isn’t me, it’s you.’”

4. Stonewalling

“In 85 percent of marriages, the stonewaller is the husband. This is not because of some lack on the man’s part. The reason lies in our evolutionary heritage.”

And let’s bring this post to a close with a biological fact and a final quote related to stonewalling:

“It’s a biological fact: Men are more easily overwhelmed by marital conflict than their wives.”
"To this day, the male cardiovascular system remains more reactive than the female and slower to recover from stress. For example, if a man and woman suddenly hear a very loud, brief sound, like a blowout, most likely his heart will beat faster than hers and stay accelerated for longer, according to research by Robert Levenson, Ph.D., and his student Loren Carter at the University of California at Berkeley."

Definitely some food for thought there. I hope you enjoyed the post and got some useful insights from the experts! Thanks for reading.


References and quotes from:
Gottman, J. and Silver, N. (1999) The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert. Harmony.