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4 Tell-Tale Signs Marriage Therapists Use to Predict Divorce

November 9th, 2017 by Marta J. Papa

Well-trained marriage therapists are more than familiar with the work of of Drs. John and Julie Gottman. The Gottmans have done the most extensive research on marriage and what predicts divorce. They discovered four main predictors, termed the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. All relationships will deal with some of these behaviors, but if many of them are consistently present, a marriage therapist may have doubts the marriage will last. These are the four behaviors to look out for; The Four Horsemen:

  1. Criticism

Verbally attacking one’s spouse’s character or personality. Criticism usually starts with, “You”.

  1. Contempt

“Attacking sense of self with an intent to insult or abuse.”

This comes from a place of superiority. One may use eye-rolling, name-calling, sarcasm and cynicism to injure their spouse.

  1. Defensiveness

This is an attempt to defend ones self from a perceived attack with a counter complaint, or playing the victim. It may be a response to criticism, but defensiveness is really a way of blaming one’s partner rather than solving the issue at hand. It is important to accept responsibility of the conflict, even if it is only partial responsibility.

  1. Stonewalling

This is withdrawing a way to avoid conflict. The stonewaller may completely shut down or physically leave. Stonewalling conveys disapproval, distance and separation.