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Gottman's Relationship Research

Couple before Relationship Counseling in Jacksonville

What are the Four Horsemen?

John Gottman, Ph.D., the world’s foremost researcher in the area of couple relationships and marriage, has studied couples for more than 35 years.  He has identified specific behaviors and attitudes which he refers to as "The Four Horsemen" (see below),  that enable him to predict with 85% accuracy whether or not a couple will divorce:

  1. Criticizing or blaming your partner (using words like always, never, anything, nothing when complaining or blaming)
  2. Being defensive (defending your innocence by whining, “yes…but”, counter-complaining or attacking your partner)
  3. Expressing contempt (implying that you are superior to your partner through sarcasm, name calling, insults, mockery, being smug or rolling your eyes in disgust).  The single most powerful predictor of divorce!
  4. Stonewalling (emotionally “checking out of a discussion” and failing to give any indication that you are interested in your partner’s perspective or even listening to them)

 Why is repairing a discussion so important in preventing divorce?

No one is perfect and we all make mistakes in relationships.  Repair attempts are simply goodwill gestures to try and make things better between you and your partner or spouse when things are becoming negative.  Based on his research findings, Dr. John Gottman is able to predict divorce with 93-95% accuracy based on the presence of the "Four Horsemen" and whether or not couples can repair their conflict discussions.


Gottman discovered that what determines whether or not repair attempts are effective in getting a discussion back on a constructive path is the condition of your friendship with your partner or spouse—not how good you are at making repair attempts.  Take our Relationship Quizzes to assess how strong your friendship is in your relationship or marriage. 

Worried about the Four Horsemen in your relationship, or discouraged that you and your spouse cannot repair discussions?

You don't have to give up on your relationship just because you recognize the Four Horsemen in your interactions.  A Certified Gottman Couples Therapist has the training and skills to teach you and your partner how to:

Recognize and Replace the Four Horsemen

Repair your conflict discussions

Email or telephone (904) 236-3963(904) 236-3963 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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