The American researcher in psychology John Gottman proposed certain behaviors, or the “Four horsemen of the apocalypse”, leading to the dissolution of romantic relationships.

The first rider is the critic

This behavior is defined as an attack on your partner’s character, as opposed to a specific criticism or complaint. Especially at a time like this, you could follow your partner’s faults but say nothing to avoid conflicts. But in the bottle, anger and frustration will turn into resentment, which you can express by criticizing your partner.

The second rider is contemptuous

This behavior is defined as an insult to your partner. People can do it verbally using sarcasm or just rolling their eyes. For example, when your partner speaks to you and you say “it’s gone” without listening carefully to what he is trying to say.

The third rider is defense

This behavior is defined as a counterattack, most often in response to perceived criticism. People use this as a strategy to protect themselves when they feel victimized. They assign responsibility for causing pain to their partner. You can be defensive if you feel constantly criticized, misunderstood and blamed by your partner for no reason, and you have an “I am right and they are wrong” attitude.

Social Distancing test your relationship

The fourth rider is made of stone

This behavior is defined by elaborate maneuvers to avoid interacting with a partner. Whisperers often stop communicating with their partner, except for negative non-verbal gestures.

  1. In addition to making an effort to avoid the four riders, here are some other tips on how you and your partner can get out of this crisis with your relationship intact – if not improved:
  2. Monitor the balance between positive and negative interactions with your partner. Aim for a 5: 1 ratio.
  3. Take ownership of your feelings: use “I” statements to express your needs rather than “you” to explain what your partner should do or change.
  4. Listen to your partner’s feelings and validate their response to this crisis as OK. Do not become defensive and attack your partner for what he feels or acts.
  5. Reassure your partner of his safety. Discuss what security means to both of you and how you plan to keep yourself and other household members safe. This could also include an exercise in discerning the facts of the myths surrounding the current crisis.
  6. Establish a new routine with your partner to adapt to homework and family commitments at home. This routine should include quality couple time. This new routine should also include time apart. Give yourself time to work on individual hobbies and take turns looking after children or other family members.
  7. Make plans with your partner after the crisis ends. It is important to accept reality, but also to recognize that it is not permanent. Planning can help you stay positive and motivated to stay safe.
  8. Use this time to practice healthier habits such as eating well, sleeping, exercising, mindfulness and learning a new skill. These things improve mental well-being and, if done together, can help build intimacy.
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