The next topic I want to cover is what the Driscolls called “The Four Horsemen” of conflict in marriage. (From Dr. John Gottman’s observations)
Horsemen #1 = criticism – meaning not just having a complaint about something your spouse did that you find annoying or frustrating. It goes deeper – attacking his character or personality. Complaints attack the problem. Criticism attacks the person.
Horseman #2 = contempt – this is showing disgust for your spouse. Name calling, condescending humor, belittling, body language…. it grows over time with unresolved conflicts. We just stack it all in one big heap of disgust.
Horseman #3 = defensiveness – refusal to apologize or back down when you are guilty in a conflict. I remember some of these when DH and I were going through my refusing years. I deflected (or tried to) the blame on him… it was all his fault, when in all actuality, I didn’t want to admit I was wrong.
Horseman #4 = stonewalling – we stop working toward reconciliation, and start living separate lives. This includes ignoring your husband, turning your back on him when he tries to converse with you, and disengage emotionally and verbally with him…. essentially, you check out.
In this chapter, it states that when these 4 horsemen take up residence in your home “statistically it will end in divorce”. I am so grateful that DH and I are not one of those statistics. Thankfully for me, my husband was stubborn and not going to give up on me. But I tell you what, we sure did live for a while like friends with benefits during my refusing years…that’s something that I know DH cringes hearing about…. but that was my fault. My sin got in the way.
What is needed if we are seeing these Horsemen in our household? First recognize your sin. You can do nothing about his… sins by omission (where you do not do what you should do) and commission (where we do what we ought not do) Repent of those sins. Remember, that repentance means that you are sorry and you will not do it ever again. Repentance includes three parts to it… confession, contrition, and change. You need to be prepared to do all three…. Second, forgive if your spouse does confess his own sin. Forgive quickly. Remember that no one has been sinned against more than God. Yet, he still forgives us daily. The chapter goes through what forgiveness IS NOT, but remember forgiveness IS loving despite sin. Third, let go of all bitterness. Bitterness has roots, and usually we don’t feel bitter toward strangers, but people who we have deeper ties with and bigger expectations. Fourth, if you have a fight, make it a good fight, meaning on that reconciles instead of creates enemies and bitterness.
What are your thoughts?