That was a Doozy of an Argument: What now?

That was a Doozy of an Argument: What now?

Repair. Having discussed John Gottman’s “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” in previous posts, I will conclude this series with Gottman’s recommendation for relationship repair. You can practice repair during an argument that is escalating; use it to exit the argument; or use it after, when time has given you and your partner the chance for a bit of perspective. The goal of repair is to make your next conversation in this problem area—or another...

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Stonewalling, a.k.a. The Silent Treatment: What’s going on?

Stonewalling, a.k.a. The Silent Treatment:  What’s going on?

When acute or chronic negativity is present in a relationship, it is not uncommon for one person, usually the husband, to start stonewalling. The person stonewalling may avoid eye contact, focus on something outside the discussion (like a computer, newspaper, project), refuse to talk,  or leave the room. Stonewalling is also known as ‘the silent treatment.’ Says John P. Gottman, PhD, “The stonewaller is really trying to calm down and not...

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The Best Predictor of Relationship Demise is…

The Best Predictor of Relationship Demise is…

…contempt.” Think of contempt as any statement to or gesture toward your partner that comes from a superior place–think of sarcasm, hostile humor, name-calling, and insults; eye-rolling, sneering, or lip curling. The most dangerous aspect of contempt in a relationship is that it signals disgust and lack of respect. Can you return from this space once you’re in it? Try this and you’ll have your own answer: when you feel contempt toward...

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It’s not my fault—it’s your fault!

It’s not my fault—it’s your fault!

Defensiveness is any way of warding off a perceived attack. Defensiveness involves counter attacks and whining (positioning oneself as an innocent victim). An at-risk (or simply uninformed) couple may respond to an attack with a counter-attack, e.g., “Well, I may have failed to pick up the kids on time but you should have asked if I was able to do it rather than telling me what do like you always do!” The masters at marriage tend not to...

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Criticizing vs complaining: Do you know which one is okay?

Criticizing vs complaining: Do you know which one is okay?

Criticism: “You’re such a slob! If you cared about me you’d pick up your own dirty clothes rather than sitting around waiting for me to do it.” Complaint: “Honey, I hate picking your dirty clothes up off the floor.” [The ‘honey’ part is optional but it probably helps to set the right tone.] Having a good relationship doesn’t mean butterflies and rainbows. Each of us has our faults and we don’t always deal with ours or our partner’s shortcomings...

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