Four Ways to Damage a Relationship


I always tell couples to look up John Gottman on the internet. We have links on our website. John Gottman has revolutionized couples therapy by studying thousands of couples. Basically, when couples damage a relationship, we know how they do it.

They do it by what he called The Four Horsemen: Criticizing the other person; Getting defensive with the other person (which means basically criticizing back) – “you always do that” “no I don’t, you always do that” Stonewalling which is just staring instead of reacting/responding. The worst thing of all is Scorning the person. It’s like the exasperation or rolling of the eyes, like you are disgusted with your partner. I mean actually just saying it out loud – you’re disgusted? By your partner? Naturally, that’s not going to do great things for your relationship. It is the single expressed emotion that most predicts divorce. If you find yourself doing that, stop. Do not roll your eyes. Don’t make the exasperated (huff). You’re upset, you’re sick of it. But doing that just makes things worse. So now it’s our job to figure out, what makes things better? And we know a lot about that too.

Dr. Dan Quinn

Clinical Director - Licensed Clinical Psychologist (CA23350), Dan supervised the therapy and research of doctoral students at The Wright Institute, in Berkeley, where he has been a clinical supervisor. He has spent many years studying a multitude of therapy techniques, including relational psychoanalytic, cognitive behavioral, gestalt, solution-focused, and Internal Family Systems. He draws from all of them, depending upon the needs of the client at a particular point in the process. Dan was certified as a Positive Psychology coach after studying with its founder, Dr. Martin Seligman. He has 35 years of experience in the corporate arena, and was the CEO of a highly successful technology consulting firm.

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