In my last post I talked about Dr. John Gottman's research and his comments about what makes a relationship loving and lasting. In this post I want talk about those behaviors and interactions which are problematic and lead an intimate relationship breakdown and a downward spiral. Dr. Gottman talks about "The Four Horseman", They are Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. He says that there are two basic ways that we can be critical. He distinguishes between making an complaint and making a criticism. When we express a complaint (the way I understand it) is that we are addressing the issue and noticing that a boundary has been crossed. The second which he identifies as a criticism, is when we attack our partner's character. He says it criticism is not handled well it may pave the way for three more deadly horsemen to follow. The second is "Contempt". When we communicate with contempt, we are being mean spirited, we can be sarcastic, mock, and ridicule. He says, "we might mimic them, roll our eyes, or use some other gesture which may be demeaning, or make them fees despised or worthless. According to him contempt assumes a position of moral superiority. With defensiveness we are just not listening and making excuses for ourselves or push the blame for our behavior back onto the other. Stonewalling occurs when we avoid responding to our partner, we shut down and withdraw from the interaction. We ignore them or find some distraction that we use to keep from engaging with them. Some of these behaviors are likely to be things that we all have noticed in ourselves at some point in time.Either individual counseling or couples counseling could be invaluable to help us make changes in the way we are relating to our loved one. I think it is really important to understand that we need more positives that negatives to build a healthy loving friendship. Dr. Gottman ways that ration of positives to negatives needs to be five to one. These are not just Dr. Gottman's ideas, but are truths that are backed up by years of research.