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The Four Horsemen that Predict Divorce

In 2012, John Gottman made an appearance on the Anderson Cooper show. For those who don’t know, John Gottman and his wife Julie Gottman are psychological researchers who have done decades of work around divorce and marital stability. Although we don’t endorse their views on sexual health, the research on relationships can help anyone in need.

Couples typically display four major themes in their communication patterns: Criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. In couple’s therapy and sex therapy at Respark in Austin and Denver (and in Online therapy), we will often refer to these themes and help you develop antidotes.

Criticism: Couples often use this in argument with their lovers. John Gottman says, its a way of fueling your attack and its not constructive. Rather, it just leads to an escalation. 

Contempt: This is another common toxic trait in relationships. When a partner mocks one another, they mark superiority. John Gottman says, “its the furic acid in relationship.” Contempt actually erodes the immune system. 

Defensiveness: According to Gottman, the reason this is so toxic is because people aren’t taking responsibility for the root of the issue. 

Stonewalling: When you refuse to talk to one another. 85% of the stonewallers in heterosexual couples are guys according to Gottman’s research. Typically, people stonewall because they try not to make the argument worse. However, when you’re faced with someone who is silent like that, things tend to escalate. 

Tips for 3 things to never say in a fight: 

  1. You Never…
  2. You Always…
  3. Anything insulting or acting superior 

Check out the video:

Contact us to schedule an appointment 512-537-0922.


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