4 Ways of Communicating That Will Destroy Your Relationship

The Gottman’s have spent 40 years studying couple and relationships. They found four communication styles predict the failure of a relationship. The Gottman’s call them the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

First, to begin to work with our communication style, we have to become aware of the styles we are using. 

CRITICISM: Not a complaint, a criticism sounds like: “you are so bossy, nothing is ever good enough for you.”

A complaint sounds like: “I thought we had agreed that you would cook on Mondays.”

CONTEMPT: This is much more hurtful than criticism and is a significant predictor of separation. We feel the other person is less than us in some way. There might be name-calling and sarcasm. “You are pathetic, you say you are trying to find work, but all I see is you drinking the day away while I’m out working.”

DEFENSIVENESS: This is a response to criticism that can prevent us from taking appropriate responsibility. 

“The kitchen is a mess.”

“I only walked in 15 minutes ago, am I supposed to have unpacked the shopping AND cleaned the kitchen in that time?”

STONEWALLING: This is usually a response to contempt. One person withdraws and shuts down. Often the result of being psychologically flooded. 

You might notice that you have a tendency towards one communication style in your relationships. Is it the same in all your relationships or different?

Xx Jen

___Reference Gottman research: “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” (1999),⁣