Dog and cat lying together back to back

Sometimes, black clouds of tension and conflict hang over a relationship. You try your best, but nothing you do seems to make any difference.

If only your ‘loved’ one wasn’t so defensive….so critical….so contemptuous…so good at ignoring you!

Well, you’ve just put your finger on the four behaviours that kill relationships or – the ‘4 horsemen of the apocalypse’!

In their research on couples, Drs Julia and John Gottman identified criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling (withdrawing and ignoring) as common features of failing relationships.

In contrast, where relationships are successful, it’s because couples listen to each other and show appreciation.

Dog and cat snuggling together on sofa

So, if you feel unhappy in your relationship and want to do something positive about it, then you could:

  • notice the next time you feel contemptuous, critical, defensive or you’re doing your best to ignore your partner…and…
  • pause a moment…remind yourself of something you enjoy, like or appreciate about them
  • turn to them…find your warmth…and tell them!
  • see what happens next…..

Published by Dr Esther Walker

Esther is a counsellor and massage therapist based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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