They are called the Four Horsemen and it’s a metaphor used by Dr. Gottman to scientifically describe the four behaviours, signs or communication styles that can predict the failure of a relationship.
In the Apocalypse the four horsemen bring the end of times. In your personal life these four signs bring the end of your relationship. Therefore, you should avoid them at any cost if you still care of your partner and relationship (or you simply wish the humanity to be kind and happy -Ed.).
Let’s see together the four behaviours you should avoid if you don’t want to brake up (before or after). It’s not a matter of if, but of when: you can delay it, but you will eventually fail in your relationship (and you will always feel alone, whether you believe it or not – Ed.).
when you verbally attack your partner and he/she feels assaulted, rejected and hurt.
To not be confused with delivering feedback or seeking a way to improve things. When you realise your critic is not constructive; when you find yourself in judging your partner, you better change your mood, approach differently and think longer before talking. Hence never “judge”. If it’s also written in the Bible, there might be a reason, Ed. and now science proved that words are true.
when you attack the sense of self with an intention to insult or psychologically abuse.
Have you ever find yourself treating your partner with disrespect, teasing him/her with sarcasm, name-calling, ridicule, mimicking or body language? You should know that your partner felt worthless and despised, and you won’t live a happy relationship for long.
Dr. Gottman research discovered also that couples with this behaviour can suffer more than others from infectious illness such as colds and flu, because their immune system weakens. On the other hand, negative thoughts have always been a source of bad things and this is also true when it comes to your health.
when you see yourself as the victim in efforts to ward off a perceived attack and reverse the blame.
Do you make excuses? Do you meet one compliant with another? You should know that this behaviour will never reach any resolutions.
The only result you will get is accelerating anxiety and tension. “Ladies and Gents”, if you really think you are great and strong, you should start from taking responsibilities, so you can also prove it, Ed.
So, whatever happens, try to remain calm. Do not fall into the temptation to blame your partner, as if you are always right (nobody’s a God and perfect and there’s no shame in making some mistakes, especially when you are willing to improve and avoid them in the future, Ed.). In addition, try to structure your sentence differently: you can still say the same thing but changing the way your partner will perceive it and, consequently, the results.
when you withdraw as a way to avoid conflict in efforts to convey disapproval, distance and separation.
You can solve problems only facing them (even tough it’s easier said than done, but we should always try our best). On the contrary, running away will just postpone them (and they will accumulate). This approach will never help you.
You should, instead, keep responsive to your partner and never avoid interaction with him/her.
Have you ever find yourself in one or more of these situations? How did you really feel? Do you think you behaved with true love in your heart?
A relationship is not like a game or business and you can’t just “push the shutdown button and restart the game” without any consequences. If you don’t learn how to manage these four “horsemen” (focusing on finding a resolution rather than a conflict) they will become a habit and you will repeat the experience with other partners (even without realising it).
Resources: The Gottman Institute