John Gottman is a world renowned couple’s therapist and author. In his book, “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,” he states that in any marriage, there are four key predictors of divorce. He calls them the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,a metaphor depicting the end of times in the New Testament. These words describe war, conquest, and death. Dr. Gottman uses this metaphor to describe communication styles that can predict the end of a relationship.
The first horseman of the apocalypse is criticism. Criticism is destructive. Its unstated goal is to dismantle your partner’s entire being, and I’m not exaggerating. No one wants to hear how despicable they are. I don’t. Do you? Do we realize that only God is always loving, always kind, always good, always right? Our spouse is not perfect and neither are we. How is it that we hold her to a higher standard than we can even meet. I once heard this quote, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently from you.” How about this one? “My sin on me looks like it needs to be forgiven, but on you it needs to be punished.” Think about this, ladies, when we tell our husbands, whether yelling or in a gentle tone that he’s selfish and arrogant, do we expect him to come to us and say, “Sweetheart, I just can’t explain the love I feel for you right now.” Or when you tell your wife, gentlemen that she’s always late and that she is the most two-faced person you ever met, is she going to whisper, “I sense a closeness between us that we haven’t had in a while.” NO! That’s not what they will be saying. This is what they’ll be saying, “Get me away from this stark-raving maniac!” Let me say categorically where we’ll end up every time we do this – on the CRAZY cycle, spinning into oblivion…out the door of our marriages. Criticism and blame are damaging and bring no good result. They need to be eliminated from our communication. Here’s a quote from a husband whose wife sharpened her criticism muscles on a daily basis, “As long as my wife browbeat me and told me how awful I was, I could resist her. But when she just loved me like I was with no demands for change, I could not resist that love.”