Question of the month: I am having trouble communicating with my partner.
When I discuss this with my friends, they say all marriages are difficult and I shouldn’t worry. What are some warning signs that my spouse and I might be headed for trouble?
Dr. John Gottman of University of Washington , one of the foremost marriage researchers, claims he can predict with 90% accuracy if a couple will divorce. In his storied “love lab,” Gottman studies how couples communicate in heated moments. After 30 years of research, he has pinpointed four problematic behavior patterns. He refers to them as “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”
Horseman #1: Criticism
Criticism focuses on the person rather than on a behavior. “You are so lazy. You did not do anything with the kids today.”
Horseman #2: Contempt
Contempt includes but is not limited to name-calling, hostility and sarcasm.
Horseman #3: Defensiveness
Criticism + Contempt = Defensiveness. Defensive statements become regular patterns in relationships where contempt and criticism flow frequently. Defensiveness builds walls and blocks healing and forgiveness.
Horseman #4: Stonewalling
Stonewallers withdraw and essentially give up emotionally.
Start to look for these patterns in your communication with your partner. Although it may seem overwhelming, some simple techniques can make big changes. Consider reading some of Gottman’s work or attending a couple’s session to learn some new skills.
Lori Landy MSW LCSW SAC sees adults and couples and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 262.334.4340
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Blog Excerpt: email@example.com from Honoring Endings
We need to honor our endings and our new beginnings. It’s not only healing for us but also can help with grieving and anxiety. If we don’t properly acknowledge a loss that energy or emotion can get “stuck” and can prevent us from moving on or fully engaging in our new life. Processing a new beginning and what it all means and how life will change is very helpful (for all of us that have had babies- you know what I mean!) Showers, weddings, funerals and all the planning that goes with them can be great ways of recognizing and honoring the changes in our lives, especially if we do them in a very thoughtful, introspective way.
From the Director
The heat is on! Plants are growing- I got my first cucumber off my plant this past week, and the grape tomatoes are on the plants, but not ready for picking yet. On my bike ride, I see a lot of wild raspberries ready for picking, and I hope to make it to the strawberry patch soon- yummy strawberry shortcake. I hope you enjoy your summer- moonlit strolls, grill outs, and fireflies!
Don’t over schedule your children this summer- down time is essential for imagination and play!