Defensiveness is a response to perceived criticism or attack. Being aware and taking inventory of significant concerns in a relationship is crucial

Toxic relationships negatively impact emotional health. Being aware and taking inventory of significant concerns in a relationship is crucial, Partners owe it to themselves to evaluate how a toxic relationship impacts them and to consider the options. There are way too many walking wounded people out there. I’m referring to the masses of people who feel unfulfilled — or worse, emotionally neglected or abused — in their intimate relationships. It seems that everywhere we turn, we see and hear about people who are unhappy and emotionally hurting, often severely, in their quest to feel loved.

Let’s take a check-up- please read the following and assess whether your or your relationship needs some help?

·       Toxic relationships have a detrimental impact on emotional well-being.

·       It’s crucial to be aware of significant concerns within a relationship.

·       Many people suffer in unfulfilling or emotionally abusive intimate relationships.

·       Signs of a toxic relationship include loss of intimacy, lack of enjoyment, feeling misunderstood, frequent arguments, and dread of spending time together.

·       Three key signs of toxic relationships are passive-aggressive behaviour, criticism and contempt, and being trapped in negative energy.

·       Passive-aggressive behaviour involves avoidance, silence, and gas lighting, which can worsen over time.

·       Criticism and contempt, as described by Dr John Gottman, can be highly destructive and demoralising.

·       Feeling constantly drained and emotionally bankrupt in a relationship is a sign of toxicity.

·       Seeking the help of a qualified relationship counsellor is advisable before making significant relationship decisions.

·       Learning from the toxic relationship is essential to avoid repeating the same patterns in future relationships.

What are the four horseman in a marriage?

In the context of marriage counselling and relationship therapy, the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” is a term coined by Dr. John Gottman to describe four destructive communication patterns or behaviours that can be highly detrimental to a marriage or long-term relationship. These four horsemen are:

1.     Criticism: Criticism involves making negative judgments or character attacks on your partner. It goes beyond expressing a complaint about something specific and instead becomes an attack on your partner’s character or personality. For example, saying, “You never listen to me; you’re so selfish!” is a critical statement.

2.     Contempt: Contempt is a more severe form of criticism and involves expressing disdain, disrespect, or superiority toward your partner. It often includes sarcasm, mockery, and belittling. Contemptuous behaviour can be highly corrosive to a relationship, as it conveys a lack of respect and admiration.

3.     Defensiveness: Defensiveness is a response to perceived criticism or attack. Instead of listening to your partner’s concerns and taking responsibility for your part in the issue, defensive individuals often make excuses, shift blame, or counterattack. This defensive stance can escalate conflicts rather than resolving them.

4.     Stonewalling: Stonewalling occurs when one partner withdraws from the conversation or interaction as a way to avoid conflict or emotional engagement. It can involve physically leaving the room or emotionally shutting down. Stonewalling can leave the other partner feeling unheard and rejected.

These four horsemen are seen as predictors of relationship dissatisfaction and even divorce when they become chronic patterns of communication. Dr. Gottman’s research has shown that the presence of these behaviours in a relationship can be detrimental to emotional intimacy and long-term happiness. In marriage counselling or relationship therapy, the goal is to help couples recognise and address these destructive patterns and replace them with healthier, more constructive communication styles.

Some Reflective Questions:

Does your intimate relationship no longer feel intimate?

Does it seem not so enjoyable, even though you may still love your partner?

Do you feel not understood for who you are and the needs you have?

Does it seem that you often rub each other the wrong way?

Do you find that you can’t stop arguing over even minor issues?

Have you started to dread the thought of seeing them, instead of looking forward to your time together as you once did?

Is it time to seek help?

Resentment can build up over time, usually because couples have mastered the sweep it under the carpet manoeuvre!

NB: If you have completed the “Disclosure” step 4 it’s now time to move to the closure and bonding session Step 5.

5 Steps to a better more connected relationship over 30days program”

Up to step 4, we are identifying the weeds in the relationship and the weighting score each one of those weeds hold for each person. You then complete your homework.

Next is Step 5 “The RESET” where you learn who you need to be for one another and bond over new insightful information collected over the 30 days in our sessions. This session is a heartfelt connection of two souls.