If you've ever experienced a "heated" argument in which you felt your voice or blood pressure rise, you know that this mental state isn't conducive to a civil conversation.
Gottman noticed a clear pattern among couples that didn't stay together, identifying what he says is the #1 predictor of divorce. It's normal to feel annoyed at your partner or to disagree on things, but when you allow yourself to reach a level of contempt or disgust for him or her, that's when Mc Nulty says it becomes unhealthy.
Every couple fights, and every couple has issues: "All relationships involve ongoing, perpetual problems that will resurface," says Mc Nulty.
But it's you handle them—either with kindness or contempt—that can make or break you as a couple.
"Partners who do not handle discussions of these problems well are at the most risk of divorce," he says.
Imagine discussing a recurring issue, such as a difficult mother-in-law or major difference in libidos.
"Partners who are headed towards divorce have the following tendencies: They become angry and use what we call the 'four horsemen of the apocalypse or negative patterns of communication, which are criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness," says Mc Nulty."This leads to something we call 'diffuse physiological arousal' or 'flooding' [which involves] one or both partners' bodies releasing hormones as heart rates accelerate, muscles become tense, the skin becomes hot or sweaty, and the stomach feels nervous." Sound familiar?However, she has admitted the experience has been emotional.It has proven difficult to leave her son, whom she and Robin have joint custody of, while she goes off to work because he's more aware of her going away now that he's older.'It's the challenge of being a working mother and it's the first time he ever said that to me because I did work when he was a baby but now he is more aware of everything, so what are you going to do?It's sort of the trials and tribulations of being a woman. causes a rift between two people—and how to fix it.