John Gottman has studied the ins and “on-the-outs” of marriage for 20 years – and has discovered 5 PREDICTORS OF A BREAK UP!
1. Harsh Start Ups
You begin a discussion with your partner using criticism, sarcasm, or harsh words. Instead you should always begin with a compliment about what you appreciate about your partner and a reminder about how you really want to work on your relationship so it succeeds and the two of you can grow together.
2. You Ride The Four Horsemen
(1) You stonewall — meaning you withdrawal, refusing to participate in communication. Stonewalling is the numero uno destroyer of love. Gottman believes even fighting is a step upward on the upheaval foodchain – because at least there’s authentic and heartfelt communication being exchanged. (2) You criticize without warmth and open-mindedness. (3) You show contempt – speaking with an attitude which shows no respect for your partner — being overly judgmental over the smallest of things. (4) You’re defensive. You do not take any responsiblity for your contribution to problems.
3. Your Body Language Is Cursing And Shouting
Your arms are crossed. Your face is sneering. Your heart rate has increased. Your blood pressure has mounted. You have no ability to process information and thereby pay attention to what your partner is saying.
4. You Suck At Repair
For every negative event you need something positive to repair the emotional damage – or you will overflood your partner with too much negativity. You need to weave into hard times some soothing and adoring good times — like an expression of appreciation, a small apology, a display of some warmth. Gottman recommends a 5 to 1 nice to nasty ratio to keep your love feeling as if its loving.
5. Bad Memories
If you can’t forgive and forget then you will get stuck frozen in bad memories — “stuck” in a negative view. Instead you should purposefully share conversations where you remember the good times and good qualities you love about your partner, so as to jumpstart loving memories, and defuse bad ones.
Gottman puts forth that out of all the above stonewalling is the numero uno contributor to the finito of love. Ironically, those who stonewall claim they are simply trying to remain “neutral” — however stonewalling creates quite the opposite affect. Stonewalling makes a very loud statement – saying: “I’ve checked out of this discussion because I don’t find you important enough to continue to talk to anymore.” Ouch. Basically, stonewalling conveys a lack of respect. Interestingly, most men are physiologically unaffected by their wives’ stonewalling. However, stonewalling has quite the opposite affect on women. Wives’ heart rates increase dramatically when their husbands stonewall. To add to this, about 85% of stonewallers are men!
So, how can one do a swerve-a-roo from downward spiral back up, up, up to the upward spiraling of a thriving love life? In a word: Empathise! Putting in the effort of empathy is the universal cure-all for all relationship woes! So, if right now you and your partner are undergoing love troubles, purposefully think and feel from your partner’s point of view. Try to really figure out your partner’s feelings, fears, pains and disappointments. As Steven Covey brilliantly stated in his fabulous book The Seven Habits for Highly Effective People: “Seek first to understand — then to be understood!”