Remember the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? No, not the ones in the Bible. The other ones, those that can ruin relationships. Yup, in what can feel like apocalyptic times, there are relationship meltdown points Dr. Gottman calls the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. These are criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling. You must get rid of them. Why? Because they predict divorce more reliably than anything else. Thus the apocalypse of your relationship if not addressed. Just working on eliminating them will do wonders for your relationship. And contempt is the worst of them!

Eliminating the four horsemen.

Eliminating the four horsemen.Research shows that there is a robust link between contempt and divorce or separation. So pay particular attention to this one. If you notice it in your relationship, you need to strive to get rid of it. Contempt is putting your partner down and/or putting yourself on a higher plane. Name-calling, jokes, and sarcasm at our partner’s expense are examples of this. How often one partner experiences this from the other predicts how often they will have infectious illnesses — that’s how negative an impact this has.

The antidote to contempt is to describe your feelings and needs. When tempted to put your partner down, stop. Instead, take a moment to figure out what is going on. Ask yourself, “Am I angry? Irritated?” It may be that you need to have a conversation with your partner about that, instead of calling them a name. For this, use the softened approach. The formula is: “I feel       about      . I need      ”. Start the conversation with something like, “I’ve been feeling irritated about how money is being managed. I need us to talk about how to handle all these expenses.” Working on creating a culture of respect and appreciation in your relationship will also go a long way to making contempt a thing of the past. Look for the things you appreciate and share them with your partner; this can make a big difference!

“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” Brian Tracy

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A Survival Kit for Your Relationship

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A Survival Kit for Your Relationship

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LeMel Firestone-Palerm, LMFT, LPCC, CGT
LeMel Firestone-Palerm, LMFT, LPCC, CGT About LeMel...
Helping Create Healthy Relationships Since 1997
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist MFC 42162
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor LPC 1534
Certified Gottman Therapist