Fire Proof Your Marriage: Conclusion

Conclusion:  Taking on the 40-day “Love Dare” Challenge

To access the full 40-day challenge click here!

Being in an intimate relationship isn’t always easy.  There are going to be days when you feel like giving up and just taking the risk of letting those “hot spots” grow and fester, until before you know it, you are dealing with a 5 alarm “relationship” fire.   This is not the solution.

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It’s your turn!!  My challenge to you, is to take on the “Love Dare”—a  40-day series, based on the book  “The Love Dare” by Stephen and Alex Kendrick,  of challenges and activities designed to help husbands and wives understand and practice unconditional love and possibly rekindle some of those sparks that have gone dim. This challenge can help those that feel like their marriages are about to go up in flames or for those that feel their marriage is solid but want to continue to do things to nourish and strengthen it. For the “Fire Proof Your Marriage,”  series we only touched on four out of the 40 “Love Dare” challenges.  Consider doing all 40 “Love Dare” challenges with your spouse or getting some other couples involved and trying it together.  If you want to take this dare a step further, write your experiences in a journal.

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From personal experience, I can tell you it works!  It was not easy to do, but in the end I walked away feeling happier about myself, feeling closer to my husband, and feeling like I could put out those fires that have the potential of sending my relationship burning out of control, leaving only a trail of destruction behind.  

In the article “We Took the Love Dare”, Mary Lebeau writes about her experiences with her husband Scott.  Here are a couple of her journal entries:

Day 12: Love lets others win

The Dare: Demonstrate love by willingly choosing to give in to an area of disagreement between you and your spouse. Tell them you are putting their preference first.

To paraphrase Dorothy to the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz: “I think this one will hurt most of all.” I hate to lose. I always have. When I do have a position on a topic, it’s pretty hard (read: almost impossible) to change my mind…

So when Scott decided to okay our daughter’s bedtime snack even though she hadn’t eaten her dinner, I bit my tongue. Okay, I admit that wasn’t much of an argument, but we do have a lot of disagreement about parenting, and this was the only issue that came up today. I’m going to have to remember to keep doing this beyond today, as I’m willing to surrender my pride to keep my marriage healthy and strong.

Day 2: Love is kind

The Dare: In addition to saying nothing negative to your spouse again today, do at least one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness.

I was feeling a bit challenged about the dare. Show a gesture of kindness? I wasn’t sure what to do with that. I wanted to clean our bedroom, which certainly would be a huge act of kindness (for both of us!), but I didn’t get to finish it. Life intervened—Scott went to the doctor because of back pain, and learned he had to be tested for kidney stones. So I took over cooking duties while he went for his ultrasound. (No results yet, so we’re praying that, no matter what it is, it doesn’t cause him much pain.)…

Thinking about it, I came to a revelation. My husband is really good at being kind, especially when it comes to me. He’s good at small gestures and back rubs and making the kids’ lunches before he leaves for work. He used to do the last one because I’d be up working, but now that I’ve cut way back on writing, he still does it and lets me stay in bed. That is really kind (especially because he’s more of a “sleeper” than I am).

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I DARE YOU to take on the “Love Dare” and see what amazing things can happen in your relationship with your spouse!

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R.A.M. – Touch

The fifth dynamic to know someone in How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk by Dr. John Van Epp is touch.

What does it mean to touch?

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary touch means, “to put your hands, fingers, etc., on someone or something; to be in contact with.”  I like these definitions because it is pretty straight forward on the meaning of touch. When I touch my husband I hold his hand, put my head on his shoulder or chest, cuddle, kiss, etc. I LOVE being able to share something with my husband that only he and I can share with each other!

In the RAM by John Van Epp, it is impossible to have touch in a relationship if there is no know, trust, rely, and commitment.  So, if we want to have a successful relationship we need to get to know somebody first, learn to trust them and learn to rely on them. Once you get that far you are able to commit to them more easily and then touch lastly. You can’t have a successful relationship if your touch bar is higher than your know and trust bar. I remember when I was dating my husband and I waited to show him affection until I got to know, trust, rely, and commit to him more. Once the bar rose on each dynamic, I felt comfortable sharing and showing my affection for him.

In the beginning of marriage, it’s easy to put a lot or all of your focus on the beauty of being physically intimate with one another. However, after years of marriage, some lose that passion for one another.

Focus On The Family came out with an article called, Keep the Spark Alive. In the article it reads, “The passion is gone. We might as well be roommates. We’ve heard disappointed couples make similar statements countless times during our careers as sex therapists. And the statement is not without some truth. There’s something fleeting about the excitement and passion of a new relationship. Before long, the daily pressures of life nudge out those giddy emotions, and the surge of “newness” brain chemicals slow to a trickle. Some couples are so busy raising children and dealing with stressful jobs that physical intimacy has imply slipped in their priorities – or at least in one of the spouses’ priorities. Regardless of how much the flames have died down, couples can learn to revitalize their sexual relationship and build deeper passion over their lifetime.”

Talk to your spouse about physical intimacy and talk freely. Share each others likes and dislikes and make sure you respectfully talk through differences and create a plan that works for both of you.

Focus On The Family shared a Formula for Intimacy

Connect 15 minutes a day
Emotionally: Look into each other’s eyes; share a positive thought, feeling or affirmation of the other.
Spiritually: Share an inspirational reading and prayer.
Physically: Hug for 20 seconds: kiss passionately for 5 to 30 seconds without leading to sex.

One evening a week
Walk, date, caress with no demands.

One day a quarter
Make time for special fun and playing together without distractions; lead and teach enjoyable touch.

One weekend a year
Spend time alone together away or at home with no distractions.

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Fire Proof Your Marriage: Part 4

“Love is Accountable”

Are their behaviors in your relationship with your partner that are unhealthy or not in the best interest of your marriage?  How do you handle those behaviors?  Do you judge, punish, or try to force your spouse to change?  Do you have personal accountability in your marriage?

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In the article Love Essentially:  Relationships hinge on accountability Jackie Pilossoph  says “Every couple fights…But the distinguishing factor between working together versus calling it quits comes down to one word:  accountability.”

Taking accountability is being able to admit you are at fault and then apologizing.  This sounds so simple, right?  If you are anything like me,  admitting that I am wrong and using the words “I’m sorry” make me feel like I have lost a battle. Admitting that I’m wrong is like pulling teeth!

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What can I do to get past my unwillingness to take accountability for my wrongs in my relationship?

Pilossoph says, “It takes courage to engage in retrospection, humility and true honesty.  Accountability means taking a hard look in the mirror and owning up to a problem you caused or contributed to.  Further more, it means having the guts to attempt to fix what you did, either by asking for help or applying the discipline to change the behavior.”

Confessions of a Terrible Husband:  Lessons Learned from a Lumpy Couch gives several tips “to help you, and your spouse become accountable to each other”:

  1. Identify areas of your life and marriage you both need accountability for.
  2. Let each other know about these areas, and discuss them.
  3. Ask your spouse to keep you accountable.
  4. Let them review and assess the areas you need accountability for.
  5. Make your home a safe environment for accountability.
  6. Be quiet and listen when your spouse is talking.
  7. Be honest with the constructive feedback you give, and receive each other’s feedback with enthusiasm. Feedback will allow you to access what you might be doing wrong.

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It can be really, really hard to admit we are wrong in our marriage, but admitting we are wrong, not only leads to more trust and understanding but it makes you a hero.  My “Love Dare” for you is to stop trying to find blame and fault in your spouse but to be more willingly to step up, take accountability and apologize for any wrongs you have done.  As you do this you will create more harmony in your home and find more joy in your marriage.

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R.A.M. – Commit

The fourth dynamic to know someone in How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk by Dr. John Van Epp is Commitment.

What does commit/commitment mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary rely means, “a promise to be loyal to someone or something; the attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something.” I like this definition because when we commit to someone it means we promise to be loyal and true to them. When I married my husband, I made a commitment that I would be loyal and faithful to him. We made a commitment together that we are going to make our marriage and relationship last.

Focus on the Family shared an article called Strengthening Martial CommitmentIn the article they share three levels of commitment:

  1. Personal Commitment, a.k.a. “I Want To.” If you have a high level of personal commitment to your marriage, you may find yourself saying or thinking, “I want to continue in my marriage. I take pleasure in being married. I enjoy being committed to my spouse.”
  2. Moral Commitment, a.k.a. “I Ought To.” The with a high level of moral commitment might say, “I believe staying in my marriage is the right thing to do. I’ll stick it out because of my values and beliefs. I made a commitment before God and I should keep my word.”
  3. Structural Commitment, a.k.a. “I Have To” If you have a high level of structural commitment, the following statements may apply to you: External constraints are keeping me in my marriage. I have to stay married. I can’t afford the negative consequences of divorce on my finances, my social relationships and the way others might perceive me. Divorce would also be detrimental for my children.”

“Although one facet of commitment may sound “better” or more virtuous than another, our relationships benefit from having all three.”

In marriage it is VITAL to have and show commitment to your spouse. Commitment in marriage takes more than words, it takes action. In my own marriage, one way that my husband and I show commitment to each other is that we agreed that we won’t put ourselves in situations where we are left  alone with someone of the opposite sex. For example: we won’t drive alone with someone of the opposite sex or be left at someones house alone with someone of the opposite sex. Of course there are some situations we cannot avoid this such as the workplace or school. We don’t want to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations where there might be temptations.

The article Strengthening Martial Commitment shares ways to strengthen your level of commitment:

  • Pray. Seek God and His will for your life and your marriage. Spend time in honest reflection. Ask Him to show you how to be the spouse He wants you to be. Pray for strength and unity in your marriage.
  • Say it with actions. Let your behavior reflect your commitment. Make yourself available when your spouse wants to talk. Spend time alone with your spouse. Laugh together. Date each other. Plan for your future together. Build hedges where necessary to guard against external temptations and distractions.
  • Say it with words. Tell your spouse that you are committed to your marriage for the rest of your life. Let your kids know that you and your spouse are committed to each other through thick and thin.
  • Remind yourself of all the positive aspects of your relationship. What do you love about your spouse? How has being married blessed you? How has marriage made you grow? Make a list if you have to and review it often.
  • Set goals. How would you like to see your marriage grow? What areas would you like to see improve? Map out a game plan to achieve those goals and work toward them. Seek outside help if necessary.
  • Get others involved. Surround yourself with supportive individuals who share your values and want to see your marriage succeed. Form accountability partners. Seek out an older married couple to mentor you and your spouse.
  • Go public. Renew your wedding vows. Publicly express your continued commitment to your spouse. Invite friends and loved ones to pledge their support for your marriage.

How do you and your spouse show commitment to each other?

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Fire Proof Your Marriage: Part 3

“Love Fights Fair”

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I don’t know how it goes for you when you get in an argument with your spouse, but for me it’s usually about having one “winner” and one “loser” at the end of it.  Is this truly the way we should be approaching a “fight”?  Are there healthy ways to resolve our disagreements where you both feel good about the outcome?

In the article “Fighting Fair in A Relationship:  How to Get What You Need and Stay Close While You Do It,” Karen Young talks about 19  “do’s” and “don’ts”  about fight fair:

  1. Don’t Fear Conflict
  •   When you are in a devoted and close relationship conflict will exist.  Conflict is how you are able to learn from and see each other’s side on issues.  Not seeing eye-to-eye is “normal, healthy, and sometimes necessary when there is something important at stake for both of you.”
  1.  Attack the Issue, Not Each Other
  •  In the heat of the moment it can be easy to say things that we can’t take back.  “Don’t name call or bring the other person down to get on top of the argument.”  Sometimes it is good to take a “timeout” from the argument for a few minutes, to regroup and rejoin the conversation when both of you are less emotional and able to think more clearly.
  1.  Stay with the Issue at Hand
  •  How many times have you rehashed old issues in order to win?  I have been guilty of this myself.  This just leads to more contention and less problem solving.  “It’s the quickest way to send an argument off track and land you in a place you forget what you were fighting for.”
  1.  Don’t Confuse the Topics with the Issue
  •  Often times when we begin arguing with our spouse other issues that have been unresolved come up.  You may start arguing about the topic of leaving the toilet seat up and for some reason that leads back in to the unsettled issue of rising credit card debt.   “If you keep fighting over different things but you always seem to end up on the same issue (e.g. money or the night he/you came home late), that issue is actually where your work needs to be…Give what’s needed for the issue to let go of the grip it has on your relationship…”
  1.  Don’t Downplay the Issue
  • Ignoring a problem does not make it go away! “If feelings or needs aren’t resolved, the will come out through other topics.”
  1. Don’t’ Withdraw, or Chase
  • It can be easy to put up our defensive walls when we are feeling attacked and refuse to engage in an argument.  It can also be easy to pursue the argument if we are feeling ignored.  “One way to change that is to name your contribution to the issue… ‘I know I probably haven’t helped things by…’ or, ‘I know I upset you when I…’ This makes it easier for your partner to trust that you aren’t only out for blood.”
  1.  Be Open, Nobody Can Read Your Mind
  • How much easier would it be if we could read minds!?!  How many times have you had a disagreement expecting your spouse to already know what is wrong without being told? Guilty!  “Research has shown that people who expect a partner to mind read are more likely to feel anxious or neglected.”
  1.  Find the Real Emotion beneath the Anger
  •  In my own marriage I find that it is easy to accuse each other of being angry.  That is the “go to” emotion to turn too.  “But anger is a secondary emotion—it never exists on its own and always has another emotion beneath it.”  If you can get to the real emotion being expressed you will have more success in responding to your partners true concern.
  1.  Be Attentive
  • There is nothing worse than feeling like your spouse is not listening to you.  Having the television on during an argument in our house is sure to lead to one of us feeling like the other isn’t listening.  Give your spouse you undivided attention, no matter what!
  1. Don’t Yell
  • “If the argument is at yelling point, nobody is being heard because nobody is listening. At this point, someone needs to be the hero and calm it all down.”
  1.  Stay Away from ‘You Always’ or ‘You Never’
  • “Nobody is ‘always’ or ‘never’ anything and using these words will just inflame.”
  1.  Be Curious
  • If you aren’t asking for details than you are probably trying to come up with a rebuttal.  This type of strategy leads you nowhere fast!  “Slow things down and ask for details. This shows that you’re open to getting things sorted out.”
  1. Honestly Accept that Nobody is Perfect
  •  I have the hardest time accepting criticism but I can be really good at dishing it out.  This may be because of how my spouse is sending the message or because I am unwilling to accept that I have flaws.  “If you are the one with the wise words, say it in a way that can be heard by being generous in the delivery.”
  1.  Watch out for the Passive-Aggressive
  • ‘I’m just being honest …’, or ‘I’m not criticizing you but …’ or ‘You’re probably not going to like hearing this but …’
  1.  If You’re Wrong, Apologize
  2. If You’re Going around in Circles, Stop
  • If you feel like you are on a merry-go-round, saying the same things over and over again “slow things down and communicate to your partner your understanding of their side of things…try finding a different way to say it and check you aren’t too much on the attack.”
  1.  Find Common Ground
  •  Many times my husband and I end an argument with agreeing to disagree.  “Anything that will help to get you both back on the same team is a good thing.”
  1.  Give in or Compromise
  • “Any small concession is the groundwork for bigger ones.”
  1.  Don’t leave it unfinished
  • “Find a resolution, otherwise it will continue to press for closure.”
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The next time you feel like putting on those boxing gloves when you are fighting with your spouse, remember that a house divided against itself does not stand!  Talk with your spouse about setting rules of engagement went it comes to fighting fair and stick to those rules, no matter what!

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R.A.M. – Rely

The third dynamic to know someone in How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk by Dr. John Van Epp is Rely.

What does it mean to rely?

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary rely means, “to be dependent; to have confidence based on experiences.” This is an excellent definition because when we rely on somebody we have full confidence in them based on experiences that happen. When I came to realize that I could rely on my husband while we were dating I learned I could through various experiences that he was there for me because he simply kept his word and followed through with everything he said. Those experiences proved to me that he was someone I could rely on.

I had an experience my first year of college that dealt with a boy and my inability to rely on him. He was the cutest boy in one of my classes and all the girls were after him. He ended up showing interested in me and I was thrilled and head over heels gaga about him. We went on a couple dates and we had a lot of fun. However soon after that he continued talking to me and we would make plans to go on dates and hang out but he started to not follow through. He completely lost my trust and soon I realized I couldn’t trust him and nor did I really know him. Because of his inability to follow through with him, I knew I had to end it and stop talking to him so I could get out of this unhealthy cycle.

Dr. John Van Epp says, “moving this bar (rely) up indicates the greater ways you depend on this person to meet your most significant needs.” With the boy I dated my first year of college I learned that I could not rely on him and so the bars went down on rely, trust and know. But with my husband those bars went up. After 3 years of marriage to my husband, my ability to rely on him has only gone up. I know that I can rely on him and I need to make sure that he knows that he can always rely on me.

In marriage, it’s important to be able to rely on each other. When someone says, they will do something, it’s important to follow through. However, little things will come up and we may not be able to follow through but it’s important to be forgiving and realize that things happen. So, learn to be forgiving as well.

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R.A.M. – Trust

The second dynamic to know someone in How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk by Dr. John Van Epp is Trust.

So what does it mean to trust? To me, trust means that I can rely on someone and when I say, I trust my husband, I’m saying that I can rely on him.

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary the definition of trust is “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” As you get to know someone you begin to trust them and open up to them. Van Epp says, “this bar rises to denote a deeper, more positive, confident trust in your partner.” Trust is one of the most important qualities that make for a successful relationship. Without trust, you can’t rely on someone and it makes it harder to commit and harder to give physical affection.

Dr. Stephen R. Covey who wrote, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People said, “trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationship.” Dr. Stephen R. Covey is absolutely right. Trust is the foundational principle that holds relationships together. Back in high school I had a friend that I felt close to but after a few incidents of breaking my trust, it was hard for me to continue a friendship with her and I had to pull away from our relationship. Once that trust was broken, I could no longer rely on her and I knew there was no commitment.

When I met my husband at college and got to know him, I sensed a security with him and I knew I could trust him. As I got to Know him I opened up to him I learned to rely to on him which lead to a commitment which lead to us being able to be physical. Trust really is the foundational principle in a relationship and without it there is no relationship.

It’s very, very important to have trust in marriage. If you don’t have trust in a marriage, then you need to work on building it back up.

An article about trust in marriage from Focus on the Family says, “One of the most wonderful gifts of a loving marriage is the ability to trust your mate—trust that he will be true to you emotionally; trust that she does what she says she will do; trust that he is the same person on the inside that he presents on the outside; trust that she has your best interest in mind. This creates safety, security and a deeper capacity to love. Successful marriages are built on trust.”

Focus on the Family shares four ways to develop and uphold trust in your marriage.

Understand the Nature of Trust: Have a conversation with your spouse about the definition of trust and what it means to each of you.

Be Trustworthy: “You have to be trustworthy to receive trust.” Ask your spouse, in what ways have I not been trustworthy? Have an honest and open talk with each other because it may uncover areas that you need to work on to build trust.

Put an End to Deception: “Trust and truth go hand in hand. That is why deception of any sort is the biggest trust killer.” Lies of any kind or size can be very hurtful to your spouse and relationship. It’s important to be honest with each other about where you were, who you were with, what you said to them and where you spent money. Commit to each other to be honest and trustworthy, even if the truth might be painful and upsetting.

Give Change a Chance: If your spouse has broken your trust with a painful experience, don’t give up on them. Give him or her a chance to earn your trust so your marriage can be restored. To earn trust back, changes must be made whether it’s joining a support group, not hanging out with certain friends or going out to certain places. Changes must be made and when one stays true to those changes, trust can be re-earned.

What are some ways that you practice trust in your marriage?

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Part II: The Four Horsemen

As mentioned in my previous post, arguments and/or disagreements are bound to happen in every marriage and every relationship. There are certain negative things that should be avoided when communicating during an argument or disagreement. The Four Horsemen are four major things that should be avoided, so major that they get their very own post. They are four things that if they begin seeping into your marriage and building on one another, they can be lethal. The Four Horsemen are:

  1.     Criticism
  2.     Contempt
  3.     Defensiveness
  4.     Stonewalling

Criticism. A criticism and a complaint are two very different things. Most couples in perfectly healthy and happy relationships have plenty of complaints about their spouse or partner. A complaint focuses on a specific behavior or event. A criticism, however, is far more dangerous and damaging. A criticism is directed towards the character or personality of your spouse or partner. In other words, it is a direct attack on the person themselves. When one spouse starts criticizing the other, they really aren’t trying to resolve any problems or work anything out, they are just being mean and making things worse. For example, I may complain that my husband hasn’t helped with the dishes for a week, but a criticism would be calling him a lazy pig for not helping with the dishes. As you can see, one is an attack on his behavior, the other on him as a person.

Contempt. Contempt comes from a sense of superiority over your spouse. It is a form of disrespect and conveys disgust. When one spouse has contempt for the other, the main goal of an argument is to demean their spouse and make the point that they are better than them. There is no desire to resolve an argument, just prove that they are superior. Contempt can only be healed by humility.

Defensiveness. It is natural, when being attacked, to want to defend yourself. However, when in an argument, being defensive has never worked or helped resolve the argument. Defensiveness usually just escalates the conflict and can come across as putting blame on your partner. For example, if my husband approached me about how I didn’t make the bed for the last week and I just retorted with an excuse that I was in a big hurry and hardly had any time to brush my teeth let alone make the bed. Although that may be true, me defending my actions, or lack thereof, doesn’t resolve the problem of the unmade bed. You can see how with more detrimental problems that being defensive can be very counterproductive and extremely unhelpful when trying to resolve those problems.

Stonewalling. A stonewaller doesn’t give any kind of feedback to the speaker during a conversation. They look away, avoiding eye contact, ignoring the person speaking and not paying attention to anything they are saying. Once one spouse begins stonewalling, they check out of the conversation. There is no point in carrying on an argument because it will not get anywhere when one or both spouses are stonewalling. Tensions will just rise and anger will escalate. No one enjoys having a conversation with someone who is ignoring them or not giving them their full attention, and that lack of enjoyment gets even worse when that conversation is an argument.

Criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling are a deadly combination. As each one seeps into a marriage they inflict a lot of damage, especially when in a disagreement or argument with your spouse. In the third and final post of this series you will learn about what positive communication techniques you can use that will help you to overcome and avoid the Four Horsemen and by so doing, develop the art of arguing well. Stay tuned!

Resource: Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (2015). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Harmony Books.
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The Four Horsemen

Good communication helps marriages thrive! When communication suffers, so may the marriage. Dr. John Gottman introduced the Four Horsemen, which are different communication styles that impact effective communication. The Four Horsemen written by Ellie Lisitsa (from the Gottman Institute), helps us understand Gottman’s research of the four horsemen.

The Four Horsemen are:





Being able to understand and identify these different styles of communication can help your own communication with your spouse!

Criticism: There is a big difference between complaining and criticizing. When you criticize your partner, you are basically “attacking” their character. Some common words used to criticize are: “you always” or “you never.” Here is an example of the difference between complaining and criticizing…

Criticizing your spouse can cause them to feel attacked, rejected, unloved, and unappreciated. As you begin to use this horsemen in your communication with your spouse, it can lead to the other horsemen.

Contempt: This communication style puts you “above” your spouse. Contempt includes sarcasm, mocking, name-calling, rolling your eyes, ridicule, etc. Contempt is one of the more serious horesemen. Contempt in marriages can decrease connection and admiration with your spouse, which are crucial in marriages. Ellie Lisitsa (from the Gottman Institute) stated the following about contempt:

“In his four decades of research, Dr. Gottman has found contempt to be the #1 predictor of divorce. What is contempt, and what makes this horseman the worst? The horseman of contempt carries with it a poison that seeps into our interactions, turning them into something ugly and toxic.”

Defensiveness: Most of us are guilty of this one! When we are defensive to our partner we are making excuses for our actions. We are defending ourselves from an attack. From personal experience, defensiveness never works. It is just a way to get our spouse off our backs. By taking responsibility for our actions, progression and positive change can occur!

Stonewalling: This is when the listener in a conversation withdraws and shuts down. There is little interaction or responsiveness. That person either leaves the conversation physically or mentally. If the listener is overwhelmed, it can cause them to do this. However, to the other partner, it can come across as if they do not care enough about the situation to interact or respond.

Personally, when there have been times when I have felt overwhelmed in a conversation, I simply ask my spouse if we can discuss it later so I can have a break. This method has been very helpful in situations, and can avoid further conflict.

Learning about the Four Horsemen has really benefited my own marriage. Being able to identify them is a great way to learn how to avoid them. Using the four horsemen do not show our spouse we love them in any way. Conflict is normal, but it’s the way we handle them that counts!

Photo Credit: Gottman Institute