Relationship Patterns 101: The Four horsemen of relationships

The Four Horsemen of Relationships is a term that is thrown around a lot in the relationship counselling world. For the longest time I had no idea what this meant… yes, I can be really bad at understanding metaphors, my brain just seems to be painfully literal at times. But back to the point… what in the world does this “Four Horsemen of Relationships” mean!?

According to my research, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a metaphor used in the last book of the New Testament depicting the end of times. They describe conquest, war, hunger, and death respectively.

John Gottman in his research uses this metaphor as a way to describe four communication styles that can lead to “the end of times in a relationship”. Gottman states that he is able to predict, within 94% accuracy, if a couple is going to separate or stay together. This was based on four patterns that increases the likelihood of separation. He names criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling as the Four Horsemen.

Check out this video that breaks each of these four “horsemen” down, and hear what we can do about them.

Written by Kathy Kutzer, MSW, RSW, RCC

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