April 1, 2015

The 4 Horsemen of Marriage

On the topic of marriage, there is a lot to talk about.  Today our focus is on if our spouse is not there for us, it brings emotional disconnection, distress, and triggers the “Four Horsemen.”


The “Four Horsemen,” or signs, that your marriage is in distress and could result in divorce are:

  • Criticism – Turning a legitimate complaint into a criticism by adding “what’s wrong with you?”  This attacks a person’s character.
  • Contempt – Adding sarcasm to fuel long simmering negative thoughts about the other person.  Contempt conveys disgust. Issues cannot be resolved with contempt.
  • Defensiveness – A way of blaming your partner.  You don’t back down and the conflict escalates.  Nothing is resolved.
  • Stonewalling – Tuning out to avoid the fight and turning away to protect yourself from feeling overwhelmed or flooded by your partner’s negativity.


Being responsive to each other is difficult for couples when the relationship is filled with negativity, criticism, and withdrawing. Couples can break the patterns of interaction that cause disconnection and focus on the reparative patterns that bring the antidote to longing hearts.


EMOTIONAL AVAILABILITY: Being not only physically available, but making your heart available to the other as well.  To be emotionally available means for husbands to turn their attention towards your wives whenever she needs you and to allow not only your ears and your mind to be there, but your heart to be there for her also.  Wives must give husbands their full attention and interest whenever you are with him.

Note: Inevitably there will be times when one or the other partner is not available emotionally for short periods of time – during especially busy days, illness, extended family crises, or business trips.  This need not be hurtful or injurious to your marriage.  Damage occurs when unavailability becomes a consistent pattern.


SENSITIVE RESPONSIVENESS: Being approachable.  You can receive your spouse’s innermost thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires readily and without judgment.  Likewise, your spouse responds to you in a way that makes you feel understood, validated, and cared about.  Responsiveness also means that your spouse is able to weigh his own needs in one hand and your needs in the other and  respond in the best interest of you both and your relationship.


TRUST: Emotional availability and responsiveness are building blocks to trust.

    • Truthful Trust: Your partner can be relied upon to always tell you the truth.
    • Judgment Trust: Your partner can be relied upon to make good judgment calls.
    • Reliability Trust: Your partner can be relied upon to be dependable, on time, honest, and truthful.
    • Heart Trust: No matter what happens between the two of you, you know that your spouse will always care for you and value you.


SAFETY: While emotional availability and responsiveness are building blocks to trust, when the three together bond together, safety and intimacy are produced in your relationships.  When this safety is present, the negative emotions are quenched, needs are being met by both partners and when there is a conflict—it becomes a bonding event.

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