Criticism and the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse


All couples fight, but those who fight fair are the ones who tend to stick together. Criticism often presents in the therapy room with couples. More often than not resentment has built up and criticism becomes child play "they never ", "she always" are some of the sweeping statements that become thrown around habitually. 
Criticism can increase the likelihood of your partner becoming defensive* and there is also a possibility of it spiralling into contempt*
If you are noticing this style of communicating increasing in your discussions, act now to learn safer and more effective ways to talk about your differences . There’s nothing wrong with voicing concerns and complaints in a relationship, but try to do so in a way that focuses on your own feelings and how your partners behaviour affects you. Try to find constructive solutions to aid you achieve mutual fulfilment. "I" statements are a great starting point. Try swapping the blame with "I feel" or "I wish". Another thing to do is try to identify whether or not the generalisations are true, it is quite common that they are in fact statements from a place of anger or hurt. If it's the case that comments arise from your own feelings, tap into that and try to understand why. Then perhaps you will be able to articulate in a manner that may lead you to be heard. *Contempt, defensiveness and criticism are 3 of 4 of John Gottman's The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (stonewalling is the fourth). These 4 categories of behaviour were found to be the main reasons for marriages ending in divorce. Criticism paves the way for the other 3.