Indicators that things are NOT ok in your relationship…Part 1 of 4
I’ve recently gotten a lot of calls from people looking for couple therapy, so I thought I’d offer some thoughts on the subject.
In my experience, what often causes conflict in the couple relationships is individual struggles/stories/baggage, however you want to define it. I no longer offer couple counseling because I often end up working with them as individuals and I am very skilled at helping people get to the root cause of the things they don’t like about themselves and the things that cause problems in their relationships. This often helps individuals function better in their relationships and improves relationship satisfaction.
With all that said, I do want to offer some advice on what you can watch for in your relationship that is an indicator that things are really not good, and could be heading toward divorce, according to John Gottman, a leader in couple therapy treatment and research.
The Gottman Method calls them the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse and couples that exhibit these 4 things in their relationship are more likely to get a divorce than relationships that don’t have these things.
Over the next 4 posts, I’ll break them down so it’s easy to digest and think about how they might be creeping into your relationship.
#1 – Criticism
This is not constructive criticism that helps us grow and better understand our partner’s needs. This is destructive criticism that attacks a person’s character making them feel less than, unloved, and degraded. This is phrases like, “you’re such an idiot! You can’t do anything right!” and “You’re crazy if you think that is going to work!” These are fairly mild and I’m sure you can use your imagination to think of harsher statements, but no matter the words, the issue is the hurtful words that attack the other person’s character. It’s focusing on them as a person rather than their behavior.
So here’s an option for what to do instead if you find yourself being critical of your partner, or other people in your life, often:
- Pause and think, “Is this my problem? Do I need to intervene?” If the answer is no, walk away and let them struggle until they ask for help.
- If it is your problem ask, “Would you like some advice?” and if they say no, walk away and let them struggle until they ask for help.
- If you’re just in a bad mood and want to bite someone’s head off, eat a snack, drink some water, go for a walk, or go to bed! We all have moments where we’re just cranky and everything that comes out of our mouth is negative, try to notice that and ask for what you need instead of spewing criticism at any person that walks by.