Manage Conflict: The Four Horsemen – Will You Still Be Married in 2 Years?

Dr. John Gottman is a fantastic researcher and has a fantastic blog.  This is a synopsis of the very negative pattern that will erode love and trust in any relationship.  These four components need to stop in order to begin saving the marriage.  I was delighted to see he had this post, so I want to share this with you.  This is the first step of many steps I hope to outline with you in hopes that you, not only save your relationship, but make it much better. Thank you Dr. Gottman for your decades of research!


Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a metaphor depicting the end of times in the New Testament.  Dr. Gottman uses this metaphor to describe communication styles that can predict the end of a relationship.

The Four Horsemen are: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling.

Read  more  about them here:Relationship and Marriage Advice | The Gottman Relationship Blog: Manage Conflict: The Four Horsemen Continued.

There is good news – you can fix these!  Dr. Gottman discovered that the key to reviving or divorce-proofing a relationship is not the way in which the two of you handle disagreements, but the ways you interact are when you’re not fighting.

Here is a simple prescription to get started:

  1. Allocate fifteen extra minutes each day this week to work on your friendship with your partner. Ask open-ended questions.  S how an interest in their world.
  2. Work on creating Positive Sentiment Override. Focus on what you admire about your partner and take time to think about it, versus thinking of the bad things.  Thank them when they do something well, and let them know you appreciate them.  Don’t be general – tell them what it is, even if it is the effort.  Before you know it, the 4 Horsemen will have ridden off into the sunset.