There’s nothing worse than feeling like your relationship is failing. When the days of overwhelming affection and feelings of euphoria are replaced by pointless bickering, silence and tears. But how do you know when enough is enough?
How? Using a theory called “The Four Horsemen”, developed from over 40 years of research into relationships, that outlines the four signs that indicate a marriage apocalypse is on the horizon:
Relationships psychotherapist and Director of Clear Day Consulting Dr Jim O’Connor explained how we can identify if they’re present in our own relationships. (Post continues after gallery.)
“The Four Horsemen is a great model. It’s absolutely true that if you or your partner are doing the four things, then they are very serious signs that the relationship is failing,” he says.
“Criticism means to simply critique the other person. We do need to criticise but rarely. The problem is, because it’s purely opinion based, what if you’re wrong?” he explains.
“Contempt is when someone believes that the other person is not worthy of their respect. They believe that it’s ok to be mean and disrespectful,” Dr O’Connor says.
“An example would be making open comments that are hurtful, disregarding the needs and wants of the partner in decision making and believing that they are uninmportant,” he says.
“Defensiveness and stonewalling are similar things – preventing the person from winning and getting what they want. This could be through arguments, dismissal, distraction or by utterly refusing to co-operate,” he says.
“But it’s important to remember that they are symptoms and not causes… and they are symptoms that indicate unhappy people. They indicate that an individual has become so angry, resentful and frustrated that they are openly disrespectful to their partner.”
While Dr O’Connor agrees with Gottman, he also believes that there are many more key indicators to take into consideration.
Sometimes it all just feels too complicated…