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The 'Four Horsemen' rule that means your relationship is coming to an end

The 'Four Horsemen' rule that means your relationship is coming to an end

Trying to fix the problem after identifying it can be essential to saving the relationship

Relationships are often hard to understand, and you may have a feeling that yours isn't heading in the right direction.

Well fear not, because apparently there's four telling signs that show that your relationship may be coming to an end.

American psychologist and professor Dr John Gottman is a marital specialist who has been described as ‘the guy that can predict divorce with over 90 percent accuracy’.

The psychologist and his team at Gottman Institute have seen thousands of couples arguing in his lab, resulting in them identifying the four key behaviours that indicate that a divorce or split is on the horizon.

They have quite dramatically been called the 'Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse', a reference to the end of times in the Bible.

Dr Gottman's research found that if the Four Horsemen are present without an attempt to repair them, couples divorce an average of 5.6 years following the wedding.

So, I hear you asking, what are the four signs to look out for?

The 'Four Horsemen' can indicate that your relationship is heading towards its end if not repaired.
Getty Stock Photo


This can be defined as stating a complaint as a defect in your partner's personality, effectively giving them a negative trait.


Perhaps the greatest sign of divorce, Dr Gottman says this has to be eliminated for a marriage to work long-term.

Any statements that come from a position of superiority can indicate contempt.


Defensiveness is self-protection in the form of 'innocent victim-hood', which could also be an attempt to stop an expected attack from their partner.


This ultimately means emotional withdrawal from the interaction, which becomes an issue when the listener doesn't give the speak the usual signals to indicate that they are engaged.

These habits may indicate that the relationship is not headed the right way, but noticing and trying to repair them can be rewarding.

Trying to fix the problem after identifying it can be essential to saving the relationship.
Getty Stock Photo

Dee Holmes, a relationships counsellor and clinical service manager at Relate, spoke to Metro about the positives of tackling the issue.

The first thing you should do is to reflect what in the relationship is making you feel this way, as Dee asks: "Are you angry, frustrated, irritated? When did you start to feel this way? When do you feel more like it? What would make you happier?"

She explained that we may behave like this to avoid being vulnerable, as the true solution to problems in a marriage link to expressing ourselves about things when we may feel less confident and certain, and when we may be giving up control.

Dee recommends saying: "I feel upset about X," instead of putting the blame on the other person first.

This should start more open conversations with your partner, though it is recommended that you see a counsellor if problems persist.

Dee concluded: "It’s important to be aware of what the red flags in behaviour like this can signify.

"They can be signs of gas lighting and coercive control if constant undermining is occurring."

Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock Photos

Topics: Sex and Relationships, Dating trends