Virginia Divorce Lawyers Look at Dr. John Gottman’s “Sound Relationship House Theory”

In a recent post, our Northern Virginia divorce attorneys discussed a provocative theoretical model for divorce called the Sound Relationship House Theory. A researcher named Dr. John Gottman developed this model based on an algorithm that supposedly predicts when and how couples will get divorced. Dr. Gottman identified four negative behaviors in marriage that he called “the four horsemen of the apocalypse.” These include:

1. Criticism.

Some criticism is normal in any kind of relationship, but criticizing a partner’s personality seems to be quite detrimental (e.g. “you’re so selfish.” “You’re so bossy.” “You’re lazy.” Etc.)

2. Contempt.

This is the darkest of the four horsemen and the greatest predictor of divorce, per Dr. Gottman’s research. Contempt is a sneering kind of judgment.

3. Defensiveness.

Dr. Gottman’s website defines this term as “self protection in the form of righteous indignation.”

4. Stonewalling.

This behavior involves tuning out — no longer reacting or listening actively to the partner.

So what are the major takeaways from this research? Per the Gottman Research Institute’s website, “Dr. Gottman’s 35 years of research [boil down to] two key findings: 1. Happily married couples behave like good friends; they handle their conflicts in gentle, positive ways. 2. Happily married couples are able to repair negative interactions during an argument, and they are able to process negative emotions fully.”

Whether or not these insights will help you to preserve your marriage (if you want to preserve it), we can hope they can inspire you to develop more stable relationships in the future. Call DiPietro Family Law Group, PLLC immediately at 703-370-5555 to get the insight you need to make progress on your case.

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