Nearly 50% of marriages end in divorce when the spouses sadly discover that they have not married the person they believed. Within the first year of marriage, incompatibilities and individual problems of Emotional Intelligence come to light, and many couples do not know how to address these problems.
TheLove lab by John M. Gottman
One of the most famous researchers on this subject is John M. Gottman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington and co-director of The Gottman Institute. His work on the couple has deserved praise for their scientific rigor when observing the habits of countless couples over more than 25 years.
The psychologist says that there are very clear signs that allow you to predict the divorce of a couple. In its love lab (love lab) he asks the couples he studies to look for a topic of habitual discussion and he dedicates himself to observing them. The objective is to identify specific behaviors that can lead to the rupture. In the laboratory the interactions in the couple are observed by video and by means of cardiac monitors and other devices that measure the stress during the conversation.
With the study, analysis and monitoring of these data on hundreds of couples, the team came to identify what they believe they are:
Six danger signs for the couple
1. A violent approach: The first of these signs that predict divorce is the way an argument begins, because 96% of the time the way it starts can predict the way it will end. When a couple begins the discussion in a negative way, making accusations or losing respect for the other, the discussion is basically destined to fail. The problem is not to argue, but the way he discusses. The use of sarcasm, criticism and accusation means that the two members do not focus on negotiating, but are accusing each other. With that, one assumes that the other is the problem. The negativity is noticeable in the tone of contempt, although the words are spoken in a soft tone. The investigation showed that if the discussion begins with a "violent approach", the end is predictably negative, even if an attempt is made to soften the tone during the discussion. The result of a quarter-hour conversation can be predicted based on the first three minutes, according to Gottman's work. If such an argument begins, it is even better to leave it and speak at another time. On the other hand, when a couple begins the discussion in a more “soft” way, the most likely positive tone will end.
2. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: After the hard start, other negative attitudes that the American psychologist John M. Gottman may call “the four horsemen of the Apocalypse” may appear. They usually appear in this order: criticism, contempt, defensive attitude and disdain.
- Review. Everyone has something to say to their partner that they dislike, but it is good to distinguish the complaint from criticism. A complaint refers to a conduct (or absence of conduct), and a criticism refers to the whole: one thing is to say "don't help me a lot with the children" and another "you are a bad father". Criticisms usually begin with "you always ..." or "you never ...".
- Disparagement. Disdain is criticism with added hostility; It manifests itself through cynicism and sarcasm. The usual expressions are insults, look of boredom, mockery and hostility. Contempt is the most poisonous of attitudes because it never leads to conflict resolution. It is brewing from unresolved conflicts that remain in memory.
- Defensive attitude. When feeling attacked, the other one bounces saying that the fault is not his. He strikes back to defend his innocence or avoid taking responsibility for the problem. It only serves to continue climbing the dispute.
- Disdain or "Bolt Tactics". During the discussion, one of the two shows no signs of hearing, ignores, does not look and refuses to respond ... It usually happens at the end of relationships after much destructive contact.
3. Overflow: Although it seems that one of the two does not react and acts in a seemingly relaxed way, the truth is that it is being contained so as not to explode. That is why he takes refuge in the protection of disdain and tries to ignore the couple. Strives to unlink emotionally. Confinement itself is your only way to face hostility.
4. Body expression: The psychologists have realized that they do not need to hear the dialogue of the couples since just seeing on the monitors the body reaction is enough to see if they fight. Heartbeats rise to more than 100 per minute, hormonal changes occur as secretion of adrenalin and the general reaction of the body is the same as when preparing for the fight or flight: sweating, short and agitated breathing and other signs of anxiety. In that situation, the information processing is deficient, as is the attention span. When these bodily reactions are felt, it can be taken for granted that this discussion will only make things worse.
5. Failed repair attempts: Repair attempts are efforts to stop tension escalation during discussions. Expressions like "let's calm down" can save couples because they reduce stress and agitation. These positions prevent “the four horsemen of the Apocalypse” from unleashing and directing the relationship. Couples who end badly are those in which criticism, contempt and defensive attitudes join the failed repair attempts forming a hostile spiral. That is why the couple no longer reacts to conciliation efforts. This refusal to hear the other's explanations predicts the end of relations at 90%, according to Gottman. What makes the difference between those who respond to each other's attempts and those who are not the quality of friendship in the couple.
6. Bad memories: The last sign of the bad state of a relationship would be the way the couple tells their past in common. When asked about something from their past and choose negative moments or tend to negativize good times, it is a common behavior of badly avenues couples.
In short, strengthening the friendship is by far the most important point in a happy couple.