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Dr. John Gottman“Divorce can be predicted with 91% accuracy and in about five minutes,” says guru psychologist, Dr. John Gottman, who shares his secrets with other mental health professionals.

Dr. Gottman’s research demonstrates that when a couple’s communication spirals down too far, certain types of “attacks,” can be so marriage – lethal, that he calls them “The Four Horses of The Apocalypse.”

You, my friend, are not the only one with complaints about your partner. Make no mistake… he/she has the goods on you too.

But… having a complaint does not have to lead to:

1. CRITICISM (“Horse” #1)
You’re totally bummed out that he forgot your anniversary. Of course you are. But it’s how you handle your disappointment that is telling.

Dr. Gottman says, “The easiest way to turn a clean complaint into a nasty criticism is to add the words “What’s wrong with you?”

Successful couples learn to avoid this kind of character assassination, when they issue a complaint.

2. CONTEMPT: (“Horse #2)
The contempt “horse,” allegedly, is the most lethal.

Couples who are most likely not to succeed in the long term, often resort to contemptuous eye rolling, mocking and making fun of each other. Not only do these behaviors predict doom for you marriage, but they do not bode well for your physical health or for the physical health of your partner either.

HEALTH ALERT: Too much negative energy can translate into physical illness.

3. DEFENSIVENESS: (“Horse” #3)
If you always react to a justly offered complaint, with an apology and a plan to resolve whatever is the issue, you get an “A” in love-management and you can stop reading here.

If, on the other hand, you’re more like the rest of us, you may want to re-think your own behavior and keep defensiveness in check.

I also know how normal it feels to defend ones self in the face of criticism. I also know that a “defensive” ping-pong game rarely does anything more than escalate a problem. Hasn’t this been your experience too?

4. STONEWALLING: (“Horse” #4)
Kind of like in a bad relay race, the 4th “horse” follows after the first three set the pace. Just when one or both partners see their situation as hopeless, one or the other, is likely to resort to “stonewalling.”

He or she may physically disappear in the middle of some contemptuous complaint. More often, he or she may have learned to just tune out.

Everyone is guilty of this sometimes but it’s best to avoid “stonewalling” from becoming a habit.

Uh oh. Is there a fix for all this?

Contrary to conventional wisdom, new research shows that if both parties are willing to forego examining and dissecting every single cause for the “contempt,” then there is a way back.

Successful survivors are the ones who choose to concentrate on the love, honor and respect that had once defined their relationship. As hard as this sounds, those who succeed really do report progress to a happier place.

1. People who want to maintain or repair their relationships, have to be nice to each other.
2. Just as it is in martial arts, each “opponent” has to yield some, in order to win.

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