Gottman’s Four Horsemen, Downfall of Relationships

How We Create Unmotivated Poisonous Relationships!

By Dr. Manijeh Motaghy – Founder of Perfectly Here and Mindful Business Institute. Member of International Mindfulness Teachers Association.
May 15, 2019
In the middle of the last Couple’s Workshop, I felt pain. I felt it in my heart, my body and my mind. As my colleague and daughter-in-law, Esther Gobrial, presented her piece about the Four Horsemen by Dr. John Guttman (the four harmful ways of treating one’s partner) my heart broke. She read some examples of what one might say to someone as beloved as a partner without any consideration for the harm those words would cause. I stopped her presentation and asked everyone to check-in. To hear the examples she read and feel what it felt like to be the recipient of such harsh vicious words. Criticizing, Contemptuous, Defensive words that lead to Stonewalling.

How Often do you say or hear these words?

“You never think about how your behavior is affecting other people. I don’t believe you are that forgetful, you’re just selfish. You never think of others! You never think of me!” This is Horseman #1, Criticism, which Guttman describes as verbally attacking personality or character.
“You’re ‘tired?’ Cry me a river. I’ve been with the kids all day, running around like mad to keep this house going and all you do when you come home from work is flop down on that sofa like a child and play those idiotic video games. I don’t have time to deal with another kid. Could you be any more pathetic?” This is Horseman #2, Contempt, which is attacking sense of self with an intent to insult or abuse.
“I was just too darn busy today. As a matter of fact, you know just how busy my schedule was. Why didn’t you just do it?” This is Horseman #3, Defensiveness, which is Victimizing yourself to ward off a perceived attack and reverse the blame.
As a result of the above ways of communication, the person is psychologically flooded, withdraws and it’s very difficult for them to get back. This is Horseman #4 is Stonewalling. That is withdrawing to avoid conflict and convey disapproval, distance and separation.

Dr John Gottman

was one of the Top 10 Most Influential Therapists of the past quarter-century and the author of over 40 books and 200 articles. He created the Four Horsemen analogy to show the severity of one’s behavior towards another and it’s effects.

On May 26,

We will further discuss effective, kind and uplifting communication tools that bring joy and energy to the relationship. Re-creating a relationship that is loving and supportive rather than abandoning. Here is the link to sign-up for the Couple’s Relationship & Communication: A Mindfulness Workshop.
Please write to me if you have any questions.
With Love and Compassion,