What does it take to have a Thriving Marriage?

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.

You may be asking yourself right now, ‘what should we do?‘  You may be aware that the  four horsemen do not only know our names, but they regularly visit at your address.  If you are experiencing criticism, contempt, defensiveness, or stonewalling in your marriage, you are probably looking for a fresh start.  A new beginning can occur right now, as you make a choice to change.  If you have been doing this “dirty-dance” far to long, just change the steps and change the way you relate.

As you change the steps of your marriage dance, you will need to be purposeful and begin to relate in a way that meets each others needs.  Rather than pointing your finger and demanding that the other person change, how about you go first.  Are you the best person that you can be?  Are you meeting your spouse’s needs physically, intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally?  Are you intimately connected at the heart, in spirit, in mind, and in body?

What does it take to have a thriving marriage? It takes a lifetime of intimate connection and honest discovery.  Enjoy the journey.






Wayne and SueWith over 25 years of marriage and ministry to couples and individuals, Wayne and Sue Detweiler are passionate to help people experience true freedom and fulfillment in Christ.  As parents of 6 children, they understand the challenges of keeping a marriage healthy and thriving in the midst of a busy family life.

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