Why Do Couples Fight?

Psychologist Dr. John Gottman has done extensive research on more than 2,000 married couples over the last 30 years and has identified 4 specific communication patterns within a relationship that determine whether the couple has a successful or failed relationship. He actually has over a 90% accuracy rate on these predictions just by observing a couple for 5 minutes!

While we all engage in some or all of these factors at some point, when used regularly, these factors can predict a failing relationship. He calls these four factors the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and as seen above, they usually work in this order:

CriticismContempt DefensivenessStonewalling

Now, a failed marriage doesn’t necessarily mean it ended due to break up or divorce. A failed relationship can be one where one or both partners  are still together but do not feel respected, valued, important, and/or satisfied and there is no motivation to change that. Since South Asian culture tends to look down on divorce, this is a common experience of unhappy and failing relationships.

Once in a while, it’s ok to fall into these unproductive communication styles. We all do it. But if this is how your arguments progress a majority of the time, like clockwork, there may be something very wrong. The good news is, it doesn’t have to always be like this! Click here to read how to break this cycle and communicate more effectively.

We would love to hear your response to this article! Please feel free to leave a comment.

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  1. This article started with what I really wanted to read about. I am quite disappointed that this article did not add any value. It feels incomplete. I would have liked more analysis and possible way of communication in such relationship.

    • Just click on the links and you’ll learn more. The whole point is you have to figure out why you do something so that you can stop doing it. There’s no way a full analysis of conversation and communication can be addressed in 1 article. That’s ludicrous to expect that!

    • Please feel free to email us your specific questions and we’d be happy to address your questions. Also, take a look at other articles tagged with communication to learn more about healthy communication in relationships. In addition, clicking on the links in the article can provide more information about why this cycle of communication begins and is perpetuated.

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