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The Four Horsemen

If you’ve ever tried to research couples counseling, communication techniques, or searched for relationship advice, chances are you’ve come across a man called John Gottman. Recently I listened to a podcast by Dax Shepard (yes, that Dax Shepard) who interviewed Gottman for his work and advice on couples. It’s over 2 hours of dialogue, but every minute is worth it. I highly recommend listening to this podcast if you are in a relationship, will be in a relationship, or want a relationship (and this includes family, friends, and love).

Part of the podcast, as well as John Gottman’s techniques, is about the Four Horsemen.

Here’s a brief overview:

1. Criticism: different than a critique, criticizing your partner is an attack on who your partner is as a person. This directly hits on character, who they are at their core, their being.

Ex: “You’re a selfish person because you always do whatever you want to do and you never think of me!”

A Complaint is different. A complaint looks at event to how you felt.

Ex: “I was upset when you said I sound like my mother because I told you it hurt my feelings and you said it anyway. It made me feel like you weren’t listening.

2. Contempt: treating your partner with disrespect, sarcasm, name-calling, negative body language. This can look like mockery, rolling your eyes, or language meant to discredit the other person, to make them feel bad.

3. Defensiveness: playing the victim, proving our stance to our partner, justifying your actions, so that the other person will back off. Comes across as actually blaming your partner.

Ex: “I thought you said you would put the dishes away after work.” “I had too much to do today. I have to work. Why don’t you put them away since you don’t even have a job?"

4. Stonewalling: when the listener withdraws from the conversation, usually shutting down and can look like ignoring the other person. Tuning out, acting busy, leaving the conversation.

Here is the link to the Podcast, which can also be found anywhere you listen to podcasts! Just search Arm Chair Expert John Gottman.

You Got This.


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