Question from my followers:
As a relationship therapist, what are some initial indicators that a relationship isn't going to make it?
In my experience as a relationship therapist, all too often couples come in as a last option and are already on the verge of separation. This is why I strongly advocate for pre-marital counseling to learn how to deal with conflict before it arises.
Most couples who come in to my office have never been taught about healthy, assertive communication or how to deal with problems in their intimate relationships. Couples deal with their relationship conflict based on what they saw growing up.
This is not to say that people who were exposed to yelling or violence will use it in their relationships but the experience complicates relationship dynamics. As a result of exposure to unhealthy relationship behavior we learn things that can compromise the relationship.
Research on intimate relationships has concluded that there are some indicators that a relationships isn't going to make it. Specifically, the Gottman Institute found 4 behaviors in relationships called "The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse" that predict divorce with 93% accuracy.
The Gottman Research Institute found 4 behaviors in relationships that predict divorce with 93% accuracy
...That means if your relationship has these four behaviors there is a 93% chance you're going to break up.
Couples who come into therapy and talk over each other or use blame can be an indicator that the relationship is at risk. Blame and talking over your partner exudes defensiveness and a critical tone while sending the message that you’re not really willing to work through the relationship problems. Defensiveness and Criticism were identified by John Gottman as two indicators that couples are at risk of separation.
Lastly, couples who minimize their partner’s pain or the importance of a partner’s concern may be an indicator that the relationship isn’t going to make it, particularly when the minimization is used with disgust or contempt. Gottman states that Contempt in a relationship is a serious problem and is one of the factors that plays a part in a relationship ending.
Despite these detrimental behaviors John Gottman identifies solutions or "antidotes" to these four relationship risk factors that can help couples who are on the brink. These antidotes offer solutions to reduce fighting and improve communication with your partner.
If you or someone you love is experiencing trouble in their romantic relationships please visit www.TherapywithRaquel.com for more information. Raquel Buchanan is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT #118976) in Palm Springs California. Raquel offers counseling and therapy to individuals, families, and children.
Raquel Buchanan is a mental health profession in southern California who blogs about life and relationships. Raquel is on a mission to spread awareness about the impact of violence, abuse, and trauma.
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