The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse: 4 Relationship Habits That Predict Divorce

In the world of relationships, there’s something ominous called the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They’re not mythical horseback riders; instead, they’re destructive habits that, if ignored, can cause a marriage to crumble. Renowned psychologist Dr. John Gottman coined this term, and these Four Horsemen are like warning signs of trouble in a relationship.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at these habits that can lead to trouble in marriage and see how spotting and dealing with them can be the secret to a happy and thriving relationship.

1. Criticism: The Poisoned Arrow

Criticism, the first of the Four Horsemen, is like a poisoned arrow aimed at the heart of a relationship. It goes beyond expressing dissatisfaction and takes a swing at the person’s character. For example, instead of saying, “I didn’t like that you forgot our anniversary,” a critical statement might be, “You always forget important dates. You’re so thoughtless!” This kind of attack can slowly break down the trust and love that forms the foundation of a relationship.

2. Contempt: The Silent Assassin

Contempt, the second horseman, is like a silent assassin that feeds on disrespect. Its weapons include eye-rolling, sarcasm, and mockery. Contempt creates a feeling of superiority, making the partner feel small and creating an atmosphere of hostility. What could be simple disagreements escalate into intense battles, leaving wounds that are often hard to heal.

3. Defensiveness: The Shield of Avoidance

When confronted with criticism or contempt, the usual reaction is to defend oneself. However, too much defensiveness only makes things worse. The third horseman, defensiveness, gets in the way of constructive communication. Rather than taking responsibility or showing understanding, defensive reactions make conflicts worse, stopping any chance of resolving the issues. It’s like putting up a shield that keeps understanding from happening.

4. Stonewalling: The Silent Treatment

Stonewalling, the fourth horseman, is like building an emotional wall. When one partner withdraws and shuts down, refusing to talk, it’s like sticking a stop sign in the middle of the relationship road. Stonewalling often happens when someone feels overwhelmed or flooded with emotions. But, it makes the other partner feel left out and not listened to, making the gap between them even bigger.

Addressing the Horsemen

Spotting these harmful habits is the initial move in constructing a strong relationship. Instead of resorting to criticism, share your needs and feelings using “I” statements. Don’t let contempt linger; aim to communicate respectfully, even during disagreements. To counter defensiveness, take a moment to think before responding, and swap stonewalling with a dedication to open and honest communication. These changes can pave the way for a healthier and more resilient relationship.


While the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse may sound ominous, in relationships, awareness and proactive steps can break their spell. By substituting criticism with constructive communication, contempt with respect, defensiveness with empathy, and stonewalling with openness, couples can nurture a flourishing partnership.

Like any journey, the path to a successful and enduring marriage demands effort, understanding, and a dedication to overcoming challenges. By steering clear of the Four Horsemen, couples can move towards a future filled with love, companionship, and a bond that endures the test of time.

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