When it comes to stickhandling through conflict in couple’s work I like to use John Gottman’s 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse tool. He acknowledges that we criticize, become defensive, show contempt or stonewall when we are in conflict with our partner.

Criticism would speak to wanting our partner to change their behaviour and can be confrontational. To become defensive would speak to a reaction of feeling attacked and needing to deflect or defend our position. To show contempt would mean that we think our partner would have a lot of traits that they need to change about themselves (numerous faults). Lastly to stone wall would suggest that we are so upset that we will close our eyes and cover our ears and pretend that we are not in the room , even though we are.

The first step in managing the conflict is to acknowledge….that there is conflict. The second is to identify which of the four above characteristics do you tend to lean towards.

The good news is Gottman also came up with antidotes. In the coming days I will speak to approaches that help couples resolve what to do when they are ‘stuck’ in any of these 4 traits.

If you would like to discuss this topic further in a private counselling session or a free consultation please contact Shawn McNabb, Surrey Counsellor today