What does it take to have a Thriving Marriage?

by Wayne and Sue Detweiler

Can you imagine being in an apartment with your spouse, knowing that others were watching you fight? John M. Gottman, PH.D. put couples in a “Love Lab” to try to see if he were able to predict divorce.  One hundred thirty couples volunteered to not only to be watched, but video-tapped in the living room and kitchen of an apartment.  They watched and examined how couples related to one another.  The couples who were not doing well in their marriage often began a disagreement with a harsh tone.  Soon the scientists watching would observe what they labeled as “The Four Horsemen.” These four negative styles of behavior are lethal to a marriage and may lead to a chaotic end. Here is the list:

Horseman 1: Criticism. Criticism is more than a complaint. Criticism attacks character and blames the other person, “What is wrong with you?”

Horseman 2: Contempt. Sarcasm and cynicism are common types of contempt.  This disgusted attitude sometimes includes name-calling, mockery, sneering, or making a joke at your spouse’s expense.

Horseman 3: Defensiveness. Defensiveness denies that you have a problem and focuses all the blame on your partner, “I’m not the problem, you are!”

Horseman 4: Stonewalling. This is the last horseman to arrive, but the first one to parade off giving the silent treatment to the spouse.  Stonewalling occurs when one partner just shuts down or tunes out their spouse and the discussion.  They ignore the spouse with a coldness that is felt by everyone involved. Read more