It’s estimated that 42% of all marriages in the UK currently end in divorce and although that number seems to be dropping slowly, that’s still well over 1/3rd of all marriages coming to an unhappy end.
So the question is, what is it that causes initially happy marriages to go down in flames?
The first answer most people give is infidelity, but those rates are actually significantly lower than you might think. Only 15% of marriages end up in divorce due to infidelity. The most common reason for divorce (coming in at 36% for men and 55% for women) actually comes down to unreasonable behaviour throughout the marriage.
This behaviour usually starts at some time before the marriage, where couples argue and end up with unresolved disagreements that slowly become worse and worse over time.
Why do couples start this behaviour with their partners in the first place?
Back in the 1970s, Dr John Gottman was wondering a similar question. He wanted to know where this conflicting behaviour came from, and whether or not it could be predicted to the extent where a therapy could be developed to resolve it.
He discovered over a period of 40 years, that the main contributors to a breakdown in a marriage were “the four horsemen”:
- Criticism of the partner
- Contempt for the other person
- Stonewalling and being deliberately difficult
Once these were discovered, he could accurately trace the origins of this negative behaviour back to the personality of each partner, and the beginnings of a relationship, where certain arguments were never resolved or were held onto by the couple.
In fact, thanks to this research, Dr Gottman and his research team were able to predict a divorce with a staggering 90% accuracy!
Since it’s inevitable (and potentially healthy) that couples will disagree at times, doing so in a calm way prevents the unresolved arguments that lead to long-term resentment, and then divorce.
Dr Gottman’s marriage counselling method is based around ensuring that arguments are resolved fully so that this resentment cannot turn into one or more of “the four horsemen” and lead toward divorce.
Since creating the Gottman method of marriage counselling, thousands of couples and families have benefitted from calmer and more peaceful relationships.
If you want to know more about Dr Gottman and his research, check out the infographic below.
If you’d like to find out more about Gottman therapy and how his marriage counselling techniques might be able to help you and your partner, contact Neil Ward counselling on 07970 860 711
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