The Gottmans are very well known in the East Coast. Their research is based on longitudinal studies with couples over 40 years. Essentially the Gottmans have identified warning signs that a couple is heading for divorce versus signs that a relationship is strong. The couples that are satisfied and stable in their relationships after 40 years are called the “masters,”
The Gottman’s have highlighted four problematic behaviors, nicknamed the four horseman of the Apocalypse:
Criticism: Critical of a partner’s behaviors to the point of identifying them as character deficits.
Contempt: Statements that place one in a position of superiority, lack of overall respect. This is the greatest predictor of divorce.
Stonewalling: Not acknowledging or responding to your conflict, disengaging from the connection entirely.
Defensiveness: Self protective stance that disables you from hearing your partners concerns
Please enjoy this video below, “Gottman’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”
The goal of couples counseling is to work with a couple and improve their management of conflict, using the principals observed in the “masters” relational dynamics.
The primary components of “Masters” is their strong friendship and ability to dialouge about conflicts gently. They also tend to make successful repairs in resolving conflict.
As a couples counselor, I offer input and various tools but the relational dynamic remains primarily dyadic. I will interrupt conflict if I think that it will not be helpful and I will attempt to redirect the focus in more meaningful ways.