Are You Heading for Divorce?
Marital researcher John Gottman has discovered four factors (he calls them “The Four Horsemen”) that are signs your relationship is heading for divorce. Based on these four factors alone he is able to predict with 90% accuracy which relationships are going to fail. But you don’t need to be a psychologist to see how likely your relationship is to succeed or fail. Simply read the definitions below and then take the following short quiz to see how well your relationship is doing.
Criticism – A criticism is more than a complaint. It is something directed at a partner’s character or personality. “Why did you forget to call?” is a complaint. “Why did you forget to call? You really don’t think of anyone but yourself, do you?” is a criticism.
Contempt – Contempt often has its roots in longstanding unresolved differences. This is when you are out and out disdainful of your partner or what s/he says. It can be something you think or say, a tone of voice, a roll of the eyes, or mockery. Saying “You really don’t think of anyone but yourself, do you?” while using a sneering tone and feeling something akin to bitterness or hate is an example of contempt.
Defensiveness – Defensiveness is often used as a natural reaction to contempt as a way to explain or protect yourself – e.g., “Like you remember to call me all the time?” The problem is that rather than protecting or explaining where you are coming from, defensiveness has the effect of coming across as accusatory, which only causes the situation to escalate.
Stonewalling – When one or the both of you shut down or check out emotionally, you begin to stonewall. You may ignore one another, make only a half-hearted attempt to listen to the other person, or lose yourself in a hobby or with the kids as a way to escape.
Mary Ann Carmichael, Bob & Marlene Neufeld have developed a quiz to determine to what extent you’re using the 4 Horsemen in your relationship. See how you’re doing!
1. At times, during an argument, I think it is best just not to respond at all.
2. During an argument I keep thinking of ways to retaliate.
3. During a hot argument I think, “It doesn’t matter what you say” and I stop listening.
4. During arguments, it is important to me to point out inaccuracies or explain my position.
5. I don’t get credit for all the positive things I do in our relationship.
6. When my partner is upset, I think “I don’t have to take this kind of treatment.”
7. When I see a glaring fault in my partner I can’t recall my partner’s positive qualities
8. I hate it when things in our discussions stop being rational.
9. My partner can be pretty stubborn, arrogant and smug at times
10. I let things build up for a long time before I complain. I don’t complain until I feel very hurt.
11. I often feel a sense of righteous indignation when my partner is complaining.
12. I only bring up problems if I know I’m right and want my partner to accept my point of view.
13. I point out patterns and analyze my partner’s personality as part of my complaints.
14. I think that it is best to withdraw to calm down, avoid a big fight and not get my feelings hurt.
15. I withdraw when my partner’s emotions seem out of control.
16. In a disagreement, I think it’s important to determine who is at fault.
17. In a discussion, I make general points instead of being specific about one situation or action.
18. In arguments I may be emotional, sarcastic, or call my partner names. Later, I regret this.
19. It’s hard for me to see my partner’s point of view when I don’t agree.
20. When complaining to or about my partner, I use phrases like “you always” or “you never”.
21. My partner is too touchy and gets his/her feelings hurt too easily.
22. To avoid blame, I have to explain why and how the problem arose
23. When my partner complains I feel like I just want to get away from there.
24. When my partner complains, I have to control myself to keep from saying what I really feel.
25. When my partner complains, I realize that I also have complaints that need to be heard.
26. In arguments, sometimes my response is to sigh, or roll my eyes.
SCORE: Circle any numbers you said “yes”
Criticism: 4 10 12 13 16 17 20
Contempt: 2 7 9 18 19 21 26
Defensiveness: 2 3 4 5 11 21 22 25
Stonewalling: 1 3 6 8 14 15 23 24
The more items you checked yes to is an indication of how troubled your relationship is.
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