4 Behaviors to Avoid In Your Relationship

Written by Dr. Eric Perry


“When she asked him whether it was true that love conquered all, as the songs said. ‘It is true’, he replied, ‘but you would do well not to believe it.” ~Gabriel Garcia Marquez

We would all like to believe that when we fall in love it will be forever. The truth is, love is a complicated and fluctuating emotion. It is not a superhero power that will conquer all of life’s problems. One has to treat love with respect and nourish it. By pruning the bad behaviors we can allow love to blossom and flourish. I wrote this post because I believe it is important for all of us to identify the behaviors that are deadly for our relationships.

Dr. John Gottman is a therapist who in 2007 was recognized as one of the most influential therapists of the past 25 years. He is a Professor Emeritus in Psychology who specializes in marital stability and relationship analysis. Based on several studies he conducted over the last 40 years he came up with 4 negative behaviors that can predict divorce if they are not corrected. Dr. Gottman refers to these harmful behaviors as the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. These 4 behaviors can and will slowly destroy your relationship. Daily verbal and non-verbal behaviors will erode the love that is sustaining the relationship until finally there is nothing left.

Here are the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse

1. Criticism
“What is wrong with you? Can’t you do anything right!? ~Unknown

Complaints are a natural and normal part of healthy relationships. One should be able to discuss a specific complaint with their partner and reach some sort of agreement. The type of criticism that is toxic and deadly to a relationship is when one person attacks the person’s character of the other instead of the behavior. This type of criticism will only add fuel to the argument because the person being attacked will more than likely attack back.

2. Defensiveness
“The problem is not me, but you for always bringing up this issue.” ~Unknown

Defensiveness naturally occurs when a person feels they are being attacked. It is toxic in a relationship because instead of taking responsibility for the problem the person wards off the perceived attack by blaming the other person. The person will assume no responsibility for the problem even if they are obviously at fault. They will deflect by blaming the other party.

3. Contempt
“Ok genius, the word is many… not much.” (correcting grammar during an argument in a mocking tone) ~Unknown

According to Gottman, this is the worst of the 4 Horseman. He has referred to it as “sulphuric acid for love.” Contempt in a marriage is the best predictor of divorce. A couple needs respect in the relationship in order for the relationship to thrive. Contempt is disrespectful and deadly in a relationship. The contemptuous person acts superior and may show their contempt by name calling, eye rolling, mocking or hostile humor.  Furthermore, Gottman points out that contempt in a relationship is so destructive it can serve as a predictor of how many infectious illnesses a person will have in the next 4 years. Studies have shown that contempt diminishes the immune system and can cause physical manifestations in the body.

4. Stonewalling
Stonewalling is a communicative shutdown. After the criticism, a person may refuse to engage. They are simply tuning out and building an imaginary wall around them during an argument. They will refuse to participate in the discussion in any way. They will not respond verbally or give any physical cues to acknowledge the argument. Many times the stonewaller will leave the argument without saying anything. Stonewalling can become a habit and a way to avoid all arguments.

This article is not meant to diagnose or to be a guide for self-diagnosis. The sole purpose of this article is strictly for educational purposes.

The thoughts expressed in this blog post are my own and are not meant to create a therapeutic relationship with the reader. This blog does not replace or substitute the help of a mental health professional. Please note, I am unable to answer your specific mental health questions as I am not fully aware of all of the circumstances.

Kindly,
Dr. Perry


CREDENTIALS
Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
M.A. in Clinical Psychology
B.A. in Psychology


PRIVATE COACHING
“My mission is to provide you with solutions and insights to help you achieve your goals in a way that fits your lifestyle and your timeline.” ~Dr. Perry
www.WORLDWIDELIFECOACHING.com


Copy of Copy of Untitled-2

Copy of Untitled

32


DISCLAIMER
The materials and content contained in this website are for general information only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users of this website should not rely on the information provided for their own health needs. All specific questions should be presented to your own health care provider.

USE AGREEMENT
In consideration for your use of and access to this website, you agree that in no event will Dr. Eric Perry be liable to you in any manner whatsoever for any decision made or action or non-action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this website.

FOR IMMEDIATE SUPPORT
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.


© 2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

106 responses to 4 Behaviors to Avoid In Your Relationship

  1. Singledust says:

    #3 – Contempt seems like a really harsh and mean word and when it reaches a stage where one feels this is how they are being treated it destroys so much of their own personality and now I read with keen interest may even result in physical manifestation, thinking back I believe I have seen such an occurrence but never made the connection. This was very educational – thank you.

    Liked by 8 people

    • MakeItUltra™ says:

      Hi Singledust, according to Gottman contempt is the worst behavior to have in a marriage and I personally believe this is true. The correlation between contempt and illness does make sense since contempt is so toxic. I am so glad you liked this post and thank you for your comment. I remember you from the early days of the blog and I do appreciate all of your feedback✨ I hope to hear from you again soon!

      Liked by 7 people

    • MakeItUltra™ says:

      Thank you! I love the blogosphere and plan to be active as long as time permits ✨ thank you for your comment!

      Liked by 4 people

  2. This is one informative post. I never realized the extent of harm these four things can do! Although it’s advisable to avoid these nature traits in any relationship but yes it can certainly damage a marriage. Thanks for the post Eric.

    Liked by 7 people

    • MakeItUltra™ says:

      Hi , indeed the 4 horsemen are deadly. Contempt is the most harmful of all and it can lead to illness. Best to avoid all 4 if possible. Thank you so much for your comment and have a wonderful day✨

      Liked by 5 people

  3. Nikki says:

    Oh! This is so good. I’ve seen this in a marriage all of my life and now it is presenting more problems from the party who received the criticism, defensiveness and contempt. The receiver is now stonewalling and well, I understand, but it’s to their detriment at times. Because the one who did all of this is trying to help the person, care for the person, and the person has a wall and is uncomfortable with receiving help from that person. Granted the person still does some of the first three. It’s a big vicious cycle. Sad.

    Liked by 8 people

    • MakeItUltra™ says:

      Hi Nikki, indeed it is a vicious cycle that may be broken with awareness. I am glad you liked the post and thank you so much for your comment✨

      Liked by 4 people

  4. lifeofanno says:

    Thanks very much for this enlightening information. Personally, #4 – Stonewalling has been my issue for a long time, to be honest. Mostly do it with a smile so I don’t come across as hostile..lol. 😊
    I smile, nod and leave when they’re done….the problem persists. It brings to reason, peaceful verbal discourse is the better route to resolving misunderstanding, right?

    Liked by 7 people

  5. braddahr says:

    Gottman is brilliant. I want to take his course at some point, preferably in someplace warm near the ocean (now taking donations ha ha).
    What you are saying in the comments about contempt is right on point. Are you aware that when Jesus was expanding on the commandments, he revealed that contempt is actually murdering someone in our hearts (Matthew 5:21-22).

    Liked by 6 people

  6. Excellent and very assertive!
    Thanks for your constant contribution to the mental health field, is so necessary. Hope you abundance and a sucessful career with accomplisment of your goals.
    Namaste 🙏🏻

    Liked by 7 people

  7. Clicking for Cash from Home says:

    Very good points. I know before my spiritual awakening I was a needy, desperate, and insecure person who attracted men with all the aforementioned attributes. I was miserable plus all my relationships ended up in the toilet. After my spiritual awakening, God and his spiritual team helped me heal my negative behaviors and now I don’t feel lonely because I love and like who I am. As a result the insecure, controlling, abusive and narcissist men, which is about 95% of the men out there, are no longer interested in me and stay away. Amen!

    Liked by 6 people

    • MakeItUltra™ says:

      Hi, I am only listing the 4 behaviors that Dr. Gottman refers to as the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I believe Apathy would fall under the 6 items that predict divorce. The 4 horsemen are just one of these items.

      Liked by 4 people

  8. ladyinthemountains says:

    Another accurate article. There was so much contempt in my marriage. The disrespect I felt every time I saw the eye roll was enormous. Obviously, we ended up divorced and I am so much happier now.

    Liked by 8 people

    • MakeItUltra™ says:

      Of course and there is absolutely nothing wrong with being single! These 4 negative behaviors pertain to couples✨

      Liked by 3 people

    • MakeItUltra™ says:

      Hi Charlene thank you for your comment and I hope this post helps ✨have a great day

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I think a predictor of divorce is when someone spends more than a certain percentage of their relationship interaction complaining – whether it’s about the person or their behaviour. Say, more than about one tenth of the time. To me, complaining about me, or complaining about my behaviour, arouses the same feelings of defensiveness and annoyance. I can cope with it and be an adult -but only if it’s fairly infrequent.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. Gottman is who my marriage counselor is using for my relationship. I think he is extremely insightful. I think any and all couples could benefit from listening to what he has to say and incorporating the practices. Especially the turn towards and bidding for. They help.

    Liked by 3 people

    • MakeItUltra™ says:

      I am glad you liked it! Thank you so much for your comment ✨

      Like

  11. Although I have never been married, I had a friendship that was almost exactly like this. We had both had a thing for each other but he was a lot like the signs you had mentioned. I had ended the friendship with him because he was showing a lot of similar traits to this and kept blaming me for every single thing that went wrong, forcing me to fix things instead of compromise. In a lot of ways these can be just as easily applied to friendships as much as relationships and marriage. It always takes 2 to work things out no matter the circumstances. Thank you for sharing this and shedding light on this kind of thing!

    Liked by 6 people

  12. erinb says:

    I appreciate this post and believe it to be important.

    My husband and I are realizing our toxic behaviours, and things are beginning to improve in every aspect of our lives.

    You will never hear me say that divorce is exclusively a bad thing…as a survivor of childhood abuse, I am thankful that my mother divorced my father and took full custody. However, I think there are many cases where some amount of research, counsel and work are required in order to allow love to flourish…but divorce ends up the easier option. In some ways, it is…in some, it is not. Two parties wanting to work on themselves in order to come closer together in love is as simple as it is complex. It’s not easy, but it’s not overly difficult…certainly not impossible.

    Thanks for your posts – I have been “lurking” for a while now 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    • MakeItUltra™ says:

      I am happy to hear you found this helpful Erin. If you haven’t yet, check out http://www.5lovelanguages.com/. There you will find a quiz where you can discover both you and your husband’s love language to help you “keep your love tanks filled.” Check it out by clicking the “Learn Your Love Language” button on the website. Glad to know you are enjoying the blog!

      Like

  13. superwifeandmummy says:

    I can just hear the scrambles of panic as couples rush to show each other this post. I think you may have held a mirror up to a great deal of relationships here, because more than likely the “stonewallers” will believe they’re not blame as they are the ‘victims ‘, however , clearly each behaviour has its own level of detriment this could be a real eye opener, to say the least, for a lot of couples. Always enjoy your posts. So refreshing. Thank you 🌺🌺

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Hello Eric. How are you? Oh, I’ve seen these in friend’s relationships before, and also my past ones…the worst thing I used to do is to not talk about any of my ‘complaints ‘/ issues …this led to me feeling frustrated all the time, and I think my personality became mean and hostile. This was definitely not healthy! I think we learn a lot about ourselves when we take time to look back on past failed relationships…it’s easier to see things more clearly when you’re not ‘in’ the situation..
    Anyway, thanks for sharing. I hope you are well.
    Carly

    Liked by 2 people

    • MakeItUltra™ says:

      Hi Carly, excellent points! thank you for your comment ✨I am doing well! 😀 and sending you warm greetings from California!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. mysandie says:

    Hi, please advise l think l m one of those people who like to Stonewall to avoid an argument because l love my peacefully nature, does it mean l need professional help.??

    Liked by 3 people

    • MakeItUltra™ says:

      Hi Sandie, without knowing the extent of harm that is caused by your stonewalling it is difficult to say if professional help would be necessary. If you feel like it is something you do that you would prefer not to do, then I would suggest seeking professional guidance to address this.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Thank you Eric! This is really good information. I need to be vigilant about being critical. Appreciate the reminder. Blessings to you … and have a beautiful week. Debbie

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Asiya!!! says:

    I really appreciate the way you it’s written and I really think a relationship or friendship never dies a natural death it does by ego ,attitude and ignorance ..thanks again to bring up such topics

    Liked by 5 people

  18. Mia says:

    Thanks for this insightful article!
    I think I’ve been guilty of all four of these behaviors in my previous two marriages (which is why they’re in the past, I guess, huh?), but thankfully my current husband of more than 19yrs has been loving and patient with me and, by example, shown me better ways to behave and communicate. I thank God for him!
    And I always enjoy reading and get a lot out of your posts 😊

    Liked by 7 people

  19. notdonner says:

    Those are all great insight, Dr P. I think the issues that we bring into a relationship, behavioral baggage that we have carried for life, can very quickly consume the affection. If both people do not put into practice – from books, therapy, others’ successful example,& spiritual teaching (same tenets of belief) – devotion to each other – it’s a trainwreck.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. MaKupsy says:

    It’s not that I was always like that but somehow along the way I became the person who used to hurt me. I can’t deny that stonewalling is one very bad habit that I picked up over the years, the irony is that it only happens when we have a disagreement with my oldest sister. I hope it’s something I can work on letting go off because I know it’s a serious flaw of mine.

    Great post, thank you for sharing.

    MaKupsy | http://www.makupsy.wordpress.com

    Liked by 3 people

  21. I have experienced both criticism and defensiveness, from significant others, in the past. Contempt mainly has come from people further back, and yes, it did wonders for my lack of self-confidence. Stonewalling is something I ‘m getting from someone in my life more recently.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. dang… I fall into a bunch of these categories =S I’ve been recognizing where my past life has taken me now and i’m working on detaching myself from my old thoughts and old ways.. hmm =) thanks so much for this. With love and light, -K

    Liked by 4 people

  23. So damn true!! Especially Stonewalling!! From there, even the hopes of things getting better starts fading!! Across the relationships.. across genders! Dr. Perry get it on the billboards.. Awaken and Enlighten the loving souls😀

    Liked by 6 people

  24. Marriage as G.G. Marquez also said, ‘The problem with marriage is that it ends every night after making love, and it must be rebuilt every morning before breakfast.’ It’s work, are you willing to put in the work? – Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Some really sage advice, really. As I read your post, I had this feeling of deja vu because my last relationship was super similar to the things you mentioned but about 10x as bad. Turns out he was a narcissist and those kinds of relationships are hard to get out of because narcissistic people know the game well and are masters at manipulation! Great read!

    Liked by 5 people

  26. Criticism and defensiveness came into play yesterday. I felt criticized and embarrassed about something I said during an intimate moment because he literally laughed in my face. When I mentioned ‘it would have sounded better if you would have said it like this I think I would have been ok with it and not felt as criticized’. He didn’t like that I told him “how he should have said it”. I am not one to tell someone what to do, but I am vocal about how I feel and offer suggestions on how to talk to me. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. We ended up talking and things are fine, but makes me wonder if I have to put my feelings aside to justify his.

    Liked by 4 people

  27. My husband and I have been married for 39 years and I have to say (with conviction) that love is something that is more a decision than a feeling. But, of course, it feels good too. However, it is easy to get lost in the everyday frictions – like dirty socks on the floor, instead of in the laundry hamper – those little things used to make me crazy in the early years. Often we would get into power struggles as we both had (have) control issues. The little things can break a marriage, if you let them. It takes time and dedication to talk things through without allowing these 4 bad habits to wreak havoc on a relationship- after all they are all ways to try to gain the upper hand, to be in control. Contempt is definitely the worst! It feels awful. It looks awful. It is awful!!!! For me, love is something that you do….sharing the workload and not expecting your partner to carry it all is key (or one of the keys anyway) Life is not easy, and it is infinitely harder if contempt enters the picture. Great post! Thanks!!!!

    Liked by 8 people

  28. Laura says:

    Relationships are complex because people are complex and multifaceted. Often the call for vulnerability in a relationship – which is more or less a surrender of self and ego – is so difficult, hence why I think we turn to these 4 behaviours. It’s easier to build walls than to let your guard down. Relationships are fertile ground for which both people can grow individually, and together. Great food for thought, Dr Perry.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Sunshine says:

    I find these same traits show up in our parent-son relationships. Especially the contempt leading to my son taking no responsibility for actions, even when clearly wrong. Interesting.
    Definitely food for thought for marriages and other relationships as well. I’m afraid I’m guilty of all of these when I get overloaded or overwhelmed. 😢

    Blessings!

    Like

  30. skynimbusx says:

    I am personally guilty of stonewalling (although I’m not married), but I believe that the one thing that is of paramount importance in a relationship is communication. Me and my boyfriend communicate so maturely and effectively, that we are able to dissect issues and break down the problem in a way that allows us to move forward. Even though we realise that this is an example of the kind of behaviour that is detrimental to both of us, we do work at it and try to assuage the hurt we feel to talk like adults.
    This was an insightful read. Thank you! I’m looking forward to reading more such brilliance from you!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. ambatopia says:

    You hit the nail right on the head with this post. Thank you for sharing this. It puts A lot of things in perspective when it comes to a relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Emppowernow says:

    Beautiful quote and very informative!

    I guess disrespect is the main cause for one of the four (all of the four) to trigger anytime … in any relationship.

    Like

  33. Great advice. Relationship is about love, patience and nurturing but sometimes we forget and negative behaviors starts to develop. Thanks for today’s great advice.

    Like

  34. Kindness,subtlety and patience are the order of the day. Everyone has to be themselves. Love doesn’t conquer all, but sure helps matters when one is understanding of others. Everyone is struggling with something or another. Life, simply put, is not easy. Excellent but helpful articles you write.

    Like

  35. ekiomo says:

    #3 – Contempt; the thing about contempt and physical illness is true. I have experienced this before. Definitely sharing this with my friends.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s