There are four behaviors which researcher John Gottman PhD states both decrease happiness in marriage and increase divorce.
1) Criticism – Attacking your spouses personality or character. ” You NEVER listen!”
2) Contempt – Attacking your spouse’s whole being by name calling and insults, sarcasm, mockery or rolling your eyes. An example being the question: ” What is WRONG with you? ” ( The underlying tone being Everything!)
3) Defensiveness – Unable to take responsibility or listen to partner’s concerns. ” You think I am inattentive? You are the one who is always looking at your phone!”
4) Stonewalling – Withdrawing from the relationship as a way to avoid conflict. Most times this often still conveys disapproval or smugness. Some examples include leaving the room, stony silence, changing the subject or monosyllabic answers.
While no one would suggest that these behaviors boost loving feelings, the work of Gottman and his colleagues proved that these behaviors are what they saw in most couples who divorced. These behaviors pave the way to disconnection and the divorce lawyer’s office because it is hard, if not impossible, to continue to feel lovingly toward each when these behaviors have been present for years.
If any of these seem familiar, and I am sure they do to many, hope is not gone. There are alternatives to these behaviors and you may read more about them in my next post: ” Love Will Keep Us Together. ”
If you or someone you care about is looking for individual, couple or family counseling in the Twin Cities area please contact Trisha Falvey, LMFT