Four things which will destroy a relationship

Relationships we all have experienced at least one in our lives. Half of us looking for a partner someone to share our lives with or we are in a relationship trying our best to keep it healthy. Ive had my fair share of unhealthy ones, the ones which taught me what I dont want, now I’m with my soul mate I want the best for our little family. With the world’s pandemic making us close our doors and be together 24/7 its certainly given us plenty of time with our better half which is why I wanted to share my recent research on how to avoid a toxic behaviours, or if your still looking for Mr or Mrs right you can work on these behaviours for the future.


 I’m currently studying healthy relationship patterns in my hypnosis diploma with Withinsight Hypnotherapy researching The Gottaman Theory. This came from John Gottman, a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Washington. In his studies, he developed mathematical models, scales, and formulas to identify the elements of stability in relationships and the interactive patterns that cause couples to divorce.


 In my work as a self-love coach I teach my clients to look at themselves first, we can only change our own behaviours to be happy in a relationship this includes all relationships including friends and family. Spending a decade in toxic relationships myself blaming others for the breakdown it was only when I looked at myself that I knew that I was accepting bad behaviour for far too long, it’s only when I raised my standards that I could be with someone who reflected them. 


In Gottman’s studies, he talks of ‘The four horsemen’ which are the common denominators which breakdown a relationship and almost always end in divorce. The good news is if you nip them in the bud with changing the way you speak to each other you can change this. Looking at ‘The four horseman’ I can definitely see where my past relationships have gone wrong and things I need to continue working on in my current relationship for it to stay happy and healthy. Toxic relationships form from a breakdown of trust, communication & respect for each other. 


The four horsemen  

  1. Criticism

This is when we verbally attack our partner using you are statements. 


‘You are so lazy, you never do anything around the house’ 

To improve this kind of behaviour introducing how you are feeling will take away the personal attack. 


‘When you don’t help me with the chores, I feel overwhelmed and taken for granted can we work together to tidy up the house?’


  1. Contempt 

Is when we act superior to our partner using sarcasm, eye rolls, sneers and hostile humor mocking the other. (This is definitely one I can be guilty of if I’m angry!) This is the number one offender leading to divorce if you know you do it and you want a relationship until your grey and old it’s time to nip it in the bud. 


The way we can counteract this behaviour is to notice when our partner is doing things that make us happy, give regular praise, affection and show appreciation where it’s due. Again drawing it back to yourself how can I improve how I am acting towards my partner. Energy flows where attention flows so searching for the things you are grateful for will improve your outlook on the relationship. Gottaman also uses a 5:1 rule which keeps a relationship healthy, meaning if you have five or more positive interactions for every one negative interaction. 


  1. Defensiveness 


This is usually built up from the ongoing acts of the above two, or you don’t take responsibility for any conflict in the relationship, taking on a victims mentality which doesn’t solve anything. 


Example: It’s not my fault dinner is burned, you should have helped me. I always do everything around this house. 


Improvement: I’m sorry dinner is burned, I would really appreciate some help next time so that it doesn’t happen again. 


  1. Stonewalling 

This is when you or your partner become completely emotionally unavailable often leaving an argument without any explanation and no offer of resolving the conflict. ‘Sweeping under the carpet mindset’ this is often when either side feels overwhelmed leaving the other feeling rejected or unappreciated. 


A healthy change to this would be to tell the partner you need some time to cool off until you are ready to address the conflict. Take a walk, listen to some music to self soothe to calm down before coming back together to discuss. 


If you know you have done or are doing one or more of these things, now there is no excuse, you have the tools to make a difference, be the change to make the difference. Change starts with you. When we decide to raise the bar, if we are in a relationship worth staying in long term this will ripple out resulting in a change in our partner, or you know your worth to decide to leave. As I say over and over to my clients love yourself first, trust your decisions, think of all the times that you have been right in your gut, if you are feeling unhappy then what needs to change in YOU? 



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