John and Julie Gottman. Leaders in the field of research-based relationship therapy and pioneers of an entire field of trained therapists. John and Julie Gottman are (perhaps) the most highly recognized and regarded therapists in the field of couple’s therapy. They have made a name for themselves by basing their recommendations in research, as opposed to opinion and theory.
One of the things that they have found over their years of study and service are that relationship failure can be predicted with a massive 90% accuracy rate based on the presence of 4 main signs. These are 4 things that we may all do, they are natural behaviours. The trick is to recognize, not attribute these things to your partner, and to make amends for doing these things.
Here is an easy reference list to keep in mind when interacting with your partner:
- Criticism of your partner’s character, not action. Do you find yourself picking apart your partner’s personality, quirks, and way of life? Take a step back, stop taking their inventory, and turn the focus back onto yourself and ask yourself WHY you are picking at them.
- Contempt of your partner. This can creep into daily interactions starting with sarcasm and eye rolling. It can advance to name calling, mocking, and even outright hostile behaviour. If you catch yourself doing the above, take a pause, step back, excuse yourself from the room, calm down.
- Defensiveness against your partner. This can expressed in the form of outright righteousness and toying with your partner. Putting up walls and acting on the defense does not lend itself to creating connection.
- Stone walling your partner. This is completely withdrawing, shutting them out, closing down all communication. Again, this behaviour does not lead to creating connection, but rather creates road blocks to healing, making amends, and deepening the relationship.