The reason that couples divorce is fourfold:

Criticism

Defensiveness

Stonewalling

Contempt

or, what John Gottman calls, “the Four Horsemen.”

The Four Horsemen: Criticism, Defensiveness, Stonewalling and Contempt, are highly predictive of divorce.

Graduate students were shown 10 minute videos of couples in distress, couples that were happily married and couples who would eventually divorce.  When either of the first three Horsemen were present students could select those couples who would divorce with 95% accuracy and when contempt was present they were 99% accurate.

Therefore, it is not personality conflicts, emotional disorders, anger, issues with money, sex, the children, the in-laws, affairs, alcoholism, etc., that cause divorce, it is the Four Horsemen.

In Gottman Therapy couples are taught the Antidotes for the Four Horsemen.

Criticism Complaint Criticism Is replaced by complaint (problem description, giving information) without blaming
Defensiveness Openness Defensiveness is replaced by hearing your partner’s complaint without defending yourself.
Stonewalling Turning To Stonewalling is withdrawing. It is replaced by “Turning Toward” or “Staying Connected” to your partner emotionally.
Contempt Fondness & Admiration Contempt is disgust and abusive behavior and is replaced by fondness and admiration for your partner.

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