I recently had the opportunity to talk with some veteran officers of the Louisville Metro Police Department. One of the things we talked about were predictors of divorce.
Drs. John & Julie Gottman have done some fantastic research on this topic. They have named the major predictors of divorce, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”
Criticism – adding negative words about your partner’s character to a complaint implying, “What’s wrong with you?!”
Contempt – sarcasm, cynicism, name-calling, eye rolling, sneering, mockery, and hostile humor
Defensiveness – blaming your partner conveying the message, “The problem isn’t me, it’s you.”
Stonewalling – a harsh start to a conversation with criticism and contempt leading to defensiveness, leading to more contempt and defensiveness until one partner tunes out
All relationships have these four elements from time to time but the important piece is how well your repair attempts go when these things pop up. Failed repair attempts are another predictor of divorce (look for more about failed repair attempts in upcoming posts…). With just the presence of these things on a consistent, long-term basis, Gottman’s research shows an 82% prediction of divorce. When you add failed repair attempts, that number climbs.