Why is it that family gatherings can bring out the worst in people? Well things can really go downhill when any of what relationship expert, John Gottman’s 4 horsemen show up. The 4 horsemen of the apocalypse: criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling are behaviours that in relationships spell doom (hence their name!)
The 4 horsemen have no place at holiday dinners so don’t bring them with you. Remember you cannot change other’s behaviour – you are only responsible for yourself. And wouldn’t it be lovely if everyone left their 4 horsemen at home!
Criticism: That throwaway comment about your hair colour or weight or job or anything else for that matter that feels like having a dig is criticism. You may have a family member that feels it’s their duty to point out your flaws so you can (in their mind at least) improve and better yourself.
If you are that family member STOP. Find something that you...
We develop defences to protect ourselves from all kinds of real and imagined pain that we have experienced over our lives. How impenetrable they are will be related to just how much we have had to defend ourselves in the past. Part of the attraction in the early stages of romantic love is that “falling in love” makes us feel like we don’t need our defences anymore. We feel we have finally found someone with whom we can be totally ourselves and our defences come down. As the relationship moves on, inevitably reality creeps in and our partners reveal themselves to be human after all and with being human comes the capacity to disappoint and cause pain. And the defences come back out again.
Defensiveness is one of John Gottman’s “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. The others are criticism, contempt and stonewalling. These Four Horsemen, if present in a relationship are the strongest predictors of relationship demise.
Defensiveness looks different for...