More threads by Retired


Intelligence For Your Life
August 26, 2012

Psychologist John Gottman has studied long-term relationships for more than 30 years. He’s the guy who figured out that people need to make five positive gestures for every negative one to keep a marriage strong.

But according to New Scientist magazine, Gottman says the initial feelings that make couples FALL in love aren’t enough to keep them together. In fact, romantic love is a bad thing to base a marriage on because those feelings of "chemistry" fade. And if you don’t know how to behave in a relationship once they’re gone, it’ll come crashing down around you.

But that’s not to say love and romance AREN’T important in a relationship. Gottman says they’re wonderful - you just have to look beyond them. Ask yourself these questions:

"Am I being treated with warmth and respect?"

"Do we support each other?"

"Do I like spending time with my partner?"

"Is it easy to be together?"

"Do I like myself when I’m with this person?"

If you answered "yes" to these questions, Gottman says you can start thinking about a long-term relationship.

But on the flipside, Gottman says there are four specific things that’ll drive your relationship into the ground. He calls them the "Four Horseman of the Apocalypse." They are:

  1. Contempt. Direct insults, sarcasm and feeling that you’re better than your partner.
  2. Criticism.
  3. Defensiveness. Never taking responsibility for your actions.
  4. Stonewalling – or emotionally withdrawing from a situation.

Gottman says you have to avoid these things. Otherwise the affection, respect and support you have NOW don’t stand a fighting chance.

If you’d like to go further, check out Gottman’s book Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage.
We all do the good things and the bad things in a relationship. He's just identified what couples themselves have reported. The difference between relationships that founder and those that last is in the willingness to sincerely apologize and forgive. Both must be sincere because they demonstrate trust, dedication and commitment to each other. If you fail to apologize or if you refuse to forgive it will lead to contempt, criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling.

---------- Post Merged on September 7th, 2012 at 08:35 AM ---------- Previous Post was on September 6th, 2012 at 11:21 PM ----------

Now that I think about it this goes deeper than just apologizing. Anybody can say, "I'm sorry" and anyone can say, "I forgive you." Rather, it is a consciousness of wrongdoing and how it affected the other person (empathy) that leads to a sense of truly being sorry. True forgiveness is a place of awareness that the other person is truly and humbly sorry. These steps take us to reconciliation and change. It is the Christian model of repentance (turning away), forgiveness and reconciliation with God.

A feeling of guilt and shame is a normal response and an acknowledgment of responsibility, but in the extreme guilt and shame distort and interfere with reconciliation and can cause denial, anger and frustration. We learn this kind of malignant guilt and shame as children when we are punished by angry parents who are still denying their own guilt and shame. As a result it gets passed from one generation to the next.

Sometimes Hollywood gets it right. If you want to see how this works watch the movie, "Dead Man Walking" with Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon.
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