Sometimes it can seem as if it’s never been easier to argue as it is these days.
Not only are so many of us under increasing pressure on the home, work and financial front , but we’re also vulnerable to what’s going on around us too.
And let’s not forget, thanks to all the social media platforms at our fingertips, we can vent our spleen and speak up when we come across something we don’t agree with – whenever we like.
As for arguing in relationships, a lot is said on this matter. But it’s by no means necessarily a ‘death toll’ for any couple.
So is there a ‘behaviour’ or attitude which acts as a relationship red flag?
According to psychologist John Gottman, a professor at the University of Washington , there is.
Well, actually, there are ‘four’ – though one is far more damaging than the others.
‘The four horsemen’
So-called because they represent the four factors which cause a regular argument to escalate into something a lot more damaging, according to Stylist , Gottman has identified these as “criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling”.
Much like the original four horsemen are one way of telling the world’s ending, according to Gottman, these four horsemen, “can predict the end of a relationship.”
But one is worse than the others.
While each of these communication styles can be harmful, there’s one which is more difficult to move past, and the effects of which are particularly fatal.
Contempt is the one to watch out for.
Ellie Lisitsa wrote on The Gottman Relationship Blog , “When we communicate in this state, we are truly mean – treating others with disrespect, mocking them with sarcasm, ridicule, name-calling, mimicking, and/or body language such as eye-rolling.”
“The target of contempt is made to feel despised and worthless.”
Strong words indeed – but the evidence showed how “poisonous” and “destructive” such behaviour can be. Contempt – especially when one-sided – can become so problematic, the couple in question would really struggle to move past the issue at hand.
Not only is it bad news for our relationships, but it’s also bad news for our health.
The research found couples entrenched in mutual contempt were more susceptible to colds, flu bugs and illnesses.
Dating, relationships and break-ups