That four riders from the apocalypseHere’s how the famous American psychologist John Gottman, who practiced at the University of Washington and specialized in relationships between couples, christened the four types of behaviors that can ruin a couple.
Criticism, harmful to the couple
Criticism is particularly detrimental to the relationship. Unlike reproach, which degrades a behavior, criticism is directed directly at the person. You may find yourself using criticism when you use the words “always” or “never” to describe what your partner does or does not do. It is also recognizable by what psychologists call “you who kill”: “You never think of others”, “You never worry about me” … Criticism is dangerous because it leads to another apocalyptic rider: the counterattack.
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- Which alternative to criticism?
Complaining is a normal and healthy part of a relationship: If no one ever complains, there will be a lot of unspoken and resentment. The use of criticism in a relationship usually due to unmet needs. To get the message across without criticizing the other, try to express your feelings, your needs and make positive demands (what you want rather than what you do not want).
Contempt, a major cause of divorce
Contempt is the most dangerous behavior for the couple’s survival. It is at least very vicious, and in the worst case, it becomes emotionally offensive. It includes all forms of degrading, both verbal (irony, sarcasm, mockery) and non-verbal (sigh, rolling eyes, contempt). The purpose of contempt is to make the other person feel useless, worthless or even guilty. Contempt is often driven by past rumors, negative thoughts and things that have not been said. According to John Gottman, this is the most common cause of divorce and divorce.
- How to avoid contempt?
Instead of falling into contempt, you should strive to learn new communication skills to discuss your feelings of anger. Cultivate positive attitudes such as gratitude, compliments, empathy, tenderness. So many reflexes that place benevolence and respect at the center of the couple.
The communication error that can be fatal to the couple
Flight, an avoidance strategy that prevents communication
Flight, also called “stonewalling”, is an avoidance strategy. The person practicing it withdraws to interrupt any form of communication. She rolls over in silence, looks away, mumbling tirelessly the same arguments. This is often a reaction to the fear of duty clear an argument. This gives the other the impression that his / her partner is not interested in him / her.
- How to avoid leakage in the pair?
Without communication, the situation will be very difficult to resolve, it may even escalate. However, it does not help to keep talking about angry topics if one of you is not emotionally available to discuss. Agree to take a break from the conversation before resuming it later in a more conducive setting.
Defensiveness, reaction to criticism
A defense mechanism against criticism, the counterattack solves nothing and leads, on the contrary, to an escalation of violence. It reverses the criticism by referring the errors to the other and creates a barrier. When your partner blames you, you respond by defending this behavior instead of listening and being open to dialogue.
- How to avoid being on the defensive?
The solution, if not always easy to put into practice, is still very simple: acknowledge your share of the responsibility and apologize if necessary. It’s about not responding to criticism with another critic. This can be hard to set up, but it is the key to learning to communicate well as a couple.
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