In the last article we talked about The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse; four signs that predict the end of a relationship. Are you seeing any of them in your relationship?

The good news is there is a remedy for each of the Horsemen. Are you ready to make some counter-movements?

Like the “4 Horsemen” theory, the “antidotes” for each of them are researched and developed by Dr. John Gottman, the world-renowned expert in marital and couple relationships.

Here are the 4 remedies, correspondent to each of the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse:

For “Criticism” – Gentle Start-Up

“A complaint without blame” – using a gentle tone as a start-up, avoiding accusations. Instead of talking about the incident, try to talk about your deep-down feelings and needs.

What are your true feelings in this situation? What are the needs in you to be fulfilled? From “I feel” to “I need”, we can effectively turn a complaint to genuine sharing, that leads to our yearnings being met, and prevents discussions escalating into fights.

For “Contempt” – Culture of Appreciation and Respect

To counteract the sense of superiority in “Contempt”, we need to constantly and regularly express our affection, appreciation, gratitude, understanding etc for our partner. These are not just for the partner to feel good, but for buffering our own negative feelings when they happen.

For “Defensiveness” – Taking Responsibility

When we sense a perceived or actual attack, our self-defensive mechanism is at work – we could be in righteous indignation or innocent victimhood. Defensiveness is putting the blame back to your partner, which continues or even escalates the fight. The remedy is to take up some responsibility and accept that we play a part too. When both partners share the responsibility, they can move on and resolve a situation.

For “Stonewalling” – Physiological Self-Soothing

Take a break. Pause the conflictual interaction, and do something to soothe yourself.

When we feel calm (slower heart rate and breaths), we are less likely to involve in emotional fights and more likely to be rational and constructive. When we keep engaging in arguments, we soon find ourselves overwhelmed. When that happens, we tend to stonewall and cut-off.

Our body and mind take at least 20 minutes to calm down. So the break should be of enough time. During the break, we need to willingly put thoughts aside, and focus on physical self-care experience.


Are you ready to make good use of these counter-movements to turn negative patterns to constructive culture in your relationship? If you need some personalised guidance and coaching on these remedies, book in your couples counselling session with us.


Blog written by Yilam Fang, Social Worker and Adult, Family and Couple Counsellor