Dr. John Gottman, a well-known researcher in the area of relationships, discovered that the core of a healthy love relationship is a “romantic friendship.” Dr. Gottman defined this “friendship” as “mutual respect and enjoyment of each other’s company.”
How do we feel around our friends? We might say that we feel happy or relaxed or there is a comfort in being around them. We might also say that we have fun with our friends and support them when they need us most. We are fond of our friends and we admire their qualities while at the same time accept their faults. It will come as no surprise that when a relationship is struggling, it is often because the friendship has broken down. Instead of fondness and admiration between partners, Dr. Gottman found criticism and blame, defensiveness, stonewalling and in the worst cases, contempt. He termed this kind of negativity “The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse” and discovered that he could predict divorce at a very high rate when all four horsemen were present.
Human beings crave healthy relationships. A healthy relationship protects us from experiencing the challenges of life alone. A healthy relationship is a source of nurture and comfort. If we find ourselves in a relationship where we experience The Four Horsemen, it is time to seek professional help to address the problems in the relationship. The good news is that therapy can help. The bad news…most couples wait an average of six years before seeking help. Now is the time for the help you need.
Jeffrey George, Psy.D.
Licensed Psychologist, PY6361