Counseling Corner | Four Horseman Of An Unhealthy Relationship With Jon Leyse, MA, LMHCA

This video segment is from Restoring Hope, a TV series hosted on WHMB40 and serving the Indianapolis area. Crosswinds Counseling offers counseling services throughout Indiana.

Four Horseman Of An Unhealthy Relationship With Jon Leyse, MA, LMHCA

Hi. I’m Jon Leyse. I’m a therapist at Crosswinds and one of my favorite things to do is work with married couples, people in relationships. All of us, if we’re honest. We argue and we fight. You know we’re different. It’s not really if you fight as marriage researcher John Gottman would say, it’s not if you fight but how you fight that actually determines if your relationship is going to last. And he’s developed these four horsemen as ways to look at your relationship and see if you’re fighting fair or to use a boxing metaphor if you’re hitting above the belt. These four horsemen are ways of fighting dirty or hitting below the belt. So I want to walk you through those.

Horseman Of Criticism

The first one is the Horseman of Criticism. This is one where someone brings a legitimate issue that needs to be talked about in a relationship and in the sense of criticism. Now instead of talking about the issue, we’re actually attacking the person. Saying things like, ‘you always’ or ‘you never’ is an example of criticism. Or ‘what’s wrong with you?’ We’re not talking about the issue, we’re talking about the person.

Horseman Of Contempt

Now the second horseman is the Horseman of Contempt. This is where one person has a sense of superiority over the other, and this comes out as sarcasm. Sometimes it’s eye-rolling or mockery. Other times it can be hostile humor where somebody is making fun of the other person and there’s an edge to it.

Horseman Of Defensiveness

The third horseman would be one of defensiveness. Where again where one partner brings up a legitimate issue and the other person will flip it back on them and say something like, ‘there’s no pleasing you, I don’t even know why I try.’ Again we’re now not talking about the issue, but we’re attacking the character of the other person.

Horseman Of Stonewalling

And the last horseman is the one of stonewalling where one of the people, typically it’s the man, gets up storms out, slams the door, goes out to the garage or turn on the TV and just gives the silent treatment and says, ‘you’re not even worth dealing with.’ Again that’s very detrimental and toxic to a relationship.

So if you recognize any of these horsemen in your relationship, or in conflict with your partner or significant other. Maybe you recognize all four of them, but it’s very important that you work on that together and if you can get those out of our relationship, it will ensure that your marriage or relationship will last for the long haul.

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