4 Key Relationship Killers

The Four Key Relationship Killers – Relationship Counselling

             Having a healthy, happy, and loving relationship is something most people strive for. In a close relationship, you’re not going to agree on everything all the time, and experiencing conflict is normal and healthy. It’s not typically conflict itself that ends a relationship, but rather how a couple deals with the conflict. Most people tend to focus on the content of the argument (like money or sex) rather than focusing on the process of the argument (like how you’re talking to each other).

Renowned researcher Dr. John Gottman has identified four predictors of divorce. If you see these often in your relationship, it could be a sign that it’s heading in the wrong direction.

  1. Criticism. This comes up a lot when couples argue. It’s used to attack someone’s personality rather than their behaviour. Saying to your partner “you’re so stupid” is an attack on their character and typically makes them defensive. It’s more helpful to pinpoint a particular action that’s bothering you, like: “When you don’t help me with the dishes, I feel taken advantage of and frustrated”.
  2. Defensiveness. This response usually occurs after someone feels criticized. Although it’s a way to protect oneself from a perceived personal attack, it ends up looking like avoidance of responsibility.
  3. Contempt. Showing contempt for your partner involves actively disrespecting them and induces sarcasm, rolling your eyes, name calling, sneering, and mocking. This is especially damaging because respect is the core of a healthy relationship.
  4. Stonewalling. This happens when one partner refuses to communicate. It demonstrates a lack of concern about the relationship and can signal to the other partner that the relationship is over.

If you notice any of these four characteristics occurring in your relationship or marriage on a regular basis, you and your partner may be in trouble. By working on your communication together as a team and trying to avoid these pitfalls, you’ll be well on your way to a better and happier relationship.

We offer couples counselling at Okanagan Clinical Counselling Services, as well as an interactive 3- week relationship building workshop that includes a complimentary private 1-on-1 session.  OCCS now has three locations for your convenience located downtown Kelowna, West Kelowna and Penticton.  Contact us today to learn more about our counselling services, workshops, and how we can help you and your partner become happier and healthier.

This blog post was written by:


Allison Crosby

B.A. Psyc, M.Ed. Counsel

Registered Clinical Counsellor

Okanagan Clinical Counselling Services

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