Are You Dealing with Relationship Stress?

4WzhZd-repair-checklist-amp-the-4-hor-oLInOK, so why am I sending out a newsletter about relationship stress?

Well, relationships can cause a lot of stress in our lives and that stress can affect our sleep, raise cortisol (a stress hormone) and trigger emotional eating and drinking, all of which can affect our weight.

I spend a lot of time researching ways to be more peaceful and happy and I came across Dr. John Gottman and his wife Dr. Julia Gottman many years ago. Dr. John Gottman has done 40 years of research on couples and has learned a great deal about what makes relationships successful and what behaviors can predict break-ups and divorce.

He refers to the “4 Horseman of the Apocalypse” as communication styles that can predict the end of a relationship. They are as follows:

1) Criticism
Attacking your partner’s personality or character, usually with the attempt of trying to make someone right and someone wrong.
e.g. “you always…”, “you never…”, “why are you so…”

2) Contempt
Attacking your partner’s sense of self with the intention to insult or psychologically abuse him/her.
e.g. insults/name calling (e.g. stupid, lazy), mockery, hostile humor, sarcasm, body language/tone of voice (e.g. sneering, rolling eyes)

3) Defensiveness
Seeing yourself as the victim, warding off a perceived attack
e.g. making excuses, cross-complaining, disagreeing and cross complaining, yes-butting, repeating yourself while ignoring the other person, whining

4) Stonewalling
Withdrawing from the relationship as a way to avoid conflict
e.g. stony silence, monosyllabic muttering, changing the subject, walking away from the conversation

The great news is that shifting from old ways of communicating to new ways can improve the relationship. So here are some solutions:

1) Learn to make specific complaints and requests
2) Speak the objective truth and listen generously
3) Validate your partner
4) Focus on appreciation (Dr. Gottman referred to the “relationship masters” as saying 5 times more positive things than negative things)
5) Claim responsibility
6) Practice being non-defensive and letting go of your inner story