The Four Horsemen (of Relationships)
When we talk about the four horsemen, we're not talking about the apocalypse. We're talking about four styles of communication that, when present within relationships, predict the eventual dissolution of that relationship.
Basically, when we see the four horsemen, we expect that the immediate interaction has a higher likelihood of going south and that if left unchecked, there's a higher likelihood that this relationship will end in separation or divorce.
What are the four horsemen?
The four horsemen are criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling (or withdrawal), and contempt. Contempt is the most corrosive and toxic within any relationship. Especially committed relationships.
One of our favorite things about relationship counseling is that for every 'problem,' there's a 'solution.' With that said, it's not up to the counselor to 'fix' the relationship. Each party in the relationship has a high level of responsibility for engaging in the process and for maintaining the changes made.
Why do I need relationship counseling for this?
Changes don't happen overnight. Well, technically, they can, but consistency with the new ways of being in your relationship takes time (and practice). And there's a huge (HHUUGGEEE) difference between knowing something/reading something/learning something and actually implementing it.
We can't even tell you how many times we've heard some variation of, "This is so hard!" once a person starts to engage in new types of dialogue. It's simple, but it's definitely easy to do. Especially if it's a hot button issue or topic.
This is why relationship counseling is important. Not only can your counselor help you identify your horsemen, but can also help you find new (and nonhorsemany) ways of saying what you need and want to say.