Love does not obey our expectations; it obeys our intentions. – Lloyd Strom
I’m a hopeful romantic and I’m totally in love with love. However, I noticed when I got into a romantic relationship, my expectations were usually more than my intentions and it would affect my relationships. I noticed this attitude invited the four horsemen into my relationships.
Although, It is true that there is no one-size fit for all relationship advice, albeit you should be wary of these four horsemen.
Dr John Gottman found that there were four habits in couples that predicted the end of their relationship: criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling. He termed them the four horsemen; the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a metaphor depicting the end of times in the New Testament.
Below are the four horsemen and the role they play in your relationship.
This the first horseman, he makes himself known but sometimes we just refuse to take note of it. He makes you make situations personal, If you have a grievance, make it known directly. Before you justify yourself, it is important to note that criticizing your partner is different from offering a critique or voicing a complaint. Critiques and complaints tend to be about specific issues, whereas criticism has to do with attacking your partner’s character and who they are. For example, Instead of “You never listen to me,” try “This is important to me, and it upsets me when it looks like you’re not listening. Can you set your phone aside for a few minutes while we talk?”.
The main problem with criticism is that it can pave the way for the worst of the horsemen — contempt.
I must warn you, this horseman is additive but you can work your way out of its reach. Contempt is about holding your partner in a negative light without giving them the benefit of the doubt. This includes mocking, sarcasm, rolling your eyes, and scoffing. It sends the message that your partner is not liked, appreciated, understood or respected. It attacks your relationship like a wildfire.
I’m too stubborn for my own good and it is difficult for me to admit me to a wrong, however, I have been learning to concentrate on my breathing when I’m tempted to defend myself anytime my partner raises an issue. I have learnt that you can’t listen when defending yourself, and when that happens communication becomes ineffective and incomplete.
There was a time I had a first degree in stonewalling, it became a coping mechanism for me for every argument I had with my partner but one day I decided to be honest with myself by asking these questions; Does it really make you happier to stonewall your partner? Does it show that you value the other person? Or does it just drag the fight out longer? and my answer was NO, so why bother.? Stonewalling can also include phubbing, or walking out of the room, and saying things like “Forget it.”