Think of a time when you felt attacked. Maybe it was by your partner, maybe it was by a stranger, family, your boss or coworker, or a friend - it doesn't really matter who did it. The point is this. Take yourself back to that time and recall what it felt like in that moment.
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.
You know the song and dance...
Partner one says, "I'm upset about this thing that happened." Partner two says, "I didn't do anything wrong!" Partner one says, "You did xyz!" Partner two says, "That's only because you did abc!" And then the two careen into a fight that has no real beginning and no real end.
Both partners feel justified. Both partners feel vilified. Both partners leave feeling misunderstood, ignored, and frustrated.
I think this is going to be a really obvious blog for people who are reading, but I've been surprised before, so it's worth it to share.
When I work with couples, I tell them that the work they do is broken down into three large themes (too much detail to get into, seriously), all of which are based around the Gottman's work. We spend time on conflict (duh - that's what most people come in for), existential issues (i.e. life roles, dreams, meaning), and friendship.
Seems really simple, right? "Just be friends with your partner!" is what they tell you, "Laugh together!" is what they say. But when you're in the throes of conflict, or when you can't even look at your partner without feeling resentment or rage or exhausting frustration or defeat, then laughing together seems like the absolute furthest thing from what you're capable of.
And, to be honest, that's not the type of thing I would tell you