I believe the term “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” can be related to the New Testament. Unfortunately, I do not have detailed knowledge about religious beliefs. And the four horsemen I will be referring to in this article will be related to the research conducted by John Gottman and Robert Levenson.
Mr. Gottman and Mr. Levenson researched about couples. They invited several volunteers for an experiment. They asked the participating couples to discuss a topic from their daily lives for about ten minutes. Gottman and Levenson took notes as the couples discussed, and they observed the couples for a couple of years. What they found out was the existence of the four horsemen of the apocalypse in couples’ communications suggested that such couples were more likely to get divorced in the future. So who are those four horses? And how can you identify them and restrain yourself from using them in your daily life?
1.Contempt: Do you think and act assuming that your partner is not worthy? Do you find it difficult to dignify your partner? Or worse, do you look down upon your partner? Please take a moment to analyze your words and actions towards your partner. And remember to be kind to yourself as well as your partner. We are all humans, and we are all entitled to make mistakes.
2.Criticism: Do you tend to find faults in your partner’s words or actions? Is criticism your first tendency towards your partner? Please remember, no one is perfect. I believe people are naturally inclined to follow a good path if they are surrounded by people with exemplary actions. Why not be an example yourself? It’s okay to say what’s acceptable behavior and what’s not. But please remember, the way and how you say it matters.
3.Stonewalling: Do you tend to shut down conversations? Stonewalling happens when an individual puts out his/her hand and says they don’t have to talk about such a subject any longer because they are aware of what’s happening etc. Practicing active listening skills may be helpful in such situations. It’s a widely acknowledged fact that we definitely need to listen more:) Why not do it with people who are most dear to you?
4.Defensiveness: Do you tend to use a counter-argument approach in your conversations? Again here, it’s important to remember that our loved ones want our well-being. They do not want to harm us, so why get all defensive all of a sudden because they said or did something that we do not like?
I realize that sometimes emotions such as stress and anger get the best of us, and we react and do things without thinking. Maybe it’s a good idea to take responsibility for our actions. As Brian Tracy says in his wonderful book, Maximum Achievement, we should be able to say “I am responsible” more often.
On the bright side, you can focus on as little as four things to improve your relationship with your loved ones.
1.Humor: Laughing together is one of the most important ingredients of a loving relationship.
2.Appreciation: Even the smallest gestures deserve appreciation and acts of gratitude. Did your partner take out the trash? Saying “thank you” shows that you appreciate the act. Did you wash your partner’s sports gear without him asking you to do so? Imagine how happy you would feel if your partner appreciated your kind act with words of gratitude. Remember, every little act of appreciation counts.
3.Forgiveness: All of us on this earth are on borrowed time. And everyone makes mistakes. Isn’t it time to let go of the “who’s right?” race by now?
4.Acceptance: No one is perfect. And it’s pointless to try to change and mold someone according to your own desires. Why not appreciate and accept the beauty of diversity?
We are all students of life, learning something new every day. Remember to forgive yourself and others for their past mistakes, and try using the phrase “I am responsible” more often to make better choices in the future. Wherever you are in life at the moment, I believe you are doing the best you can, and you are doing a great job!
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