I contributed to the following article for the Huffington Post on how to avoid Gottman’s 4 Horsemen patterns that eventually ‘kill’ your marriage:
Think about what’s really bothering you before criticizing your spouse.
“Before approaching your partner, take a few moments to figure out what the issue you need to bring up actually is. Then, take time to change your criticism into a complaint: Instead of saying ‘You always leave your shoes on the floor,’ say, ‘I’d appreciate it if you put your shoes in the closet.’” — Danielle Kepler, a therapist based in Chicago, Illinois
Make a point to show how much you value and appreciate your partner.
“Contempt develops when either partner feels unvalued. Make it a habit to tell your partner one thing they do each day that you appreciate. It can even be something small, like making you coffee in the morning.” — Danielle Kepler
Try to be sympathetic toward your partner.
“Slow down and listen for something, anything, you can agree with that your partner is saying. Try to take responsibility for a small part of the issue. ‘I see your point’ goes a long way.” — Danielle Kepler
Come up with a safe word that conveys your need for a break.
“When you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, communicate it to your spouse with a signal. Once you are both calm, continue the discussion.” — Danielle Kepler
Read more of the article here.