I don’t normally like to post about this Dr. Phil-ish kind of crap, but I stumbled on this article recently. Apparently, Dr. Gottman has been kicking this theory around for the last several years and it really caught my eye. There are several different stories on this available – I just picked one. Click on the link below to learn more about “The Four Horsemen of Divorce.”
Having experienced a divorce, I often find myself reflecting on my relationship with the STBX; not just our marriage but the courting, the present state of affairs – all of it. This isn’t a case of me lamenting my loss and wondering how I can get her back. On the contrary, this is an attempt to glean some bit of wisdom from this whole experience; to find something to go upon as i enter the next phase of my life.
Whenever I come across one of these relationship or divorce articles, my natural inclination is to use my experience with the STBX as a litmus test. Not really to see if the theroies are valid as much as to prove to myself how fucked up our relationship was. Naturally, when i saw this title, I couldn’t resist.
Crticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling – these are the four horsemen of divorce. Looking back on my relationship with the STBX, I can tell you that all four of these were present at one time or another. In the end, they were all there. I will gladly own up to the “defensiveness” and “stone walling”. As the name implies, defensiveness was my personal defense mechanism: she would cut me down; I would throw something else back at her (all figuratively speaking). Likewise, she would do the same thing to me. In hindsight, stonewalling should have been, for me at least, the sign that things were over. In fact, I had even brought it up in arguments with my STBX as things were coming to a head.
I can still remember the day and some of the details of the conversation in which I stonewalled. I was complaining about something – probably work related – something that really bothered me. Her response was “well, there’s no point in bitching about it,” which basically took the proverbial wind out of my sails. They say that most men don’t talk enough about their feelings. This blog is proof that that simply isn’t the case with me. For the first time in my life, I understood why most guys never discuss their feelings. What was the point? She had just proven that she doesn’t care about my feelings. Why bother share ANY of them anymore? So I stopped sharing my feelings. Going forward when she went on one of her rants, I would typically sit there and take it. No arguing back. No outbursts. Nothing. That was the point of no return for us; and that was the last of the four horsemen to strike. The writing was on the wall. I just rode things out until the bitter end.
Had Gottman ever observed the STBX and I in action, I think he certainly would have predicted the demise of our marriage. Through the wonder of hindsight, things are so much clearer now. i’m sure having Gottman’s findings in-hand could probably help save a lot of marriages. i don’t know if it could have helped to save mine. I think that people are ultimately going to be who and what they are. Likewise, they are going to fight however comes natural to them, good or bad. As much as I like to think of myself as taking the “high road, I also think there’s a natural inclination to fight fire with fire; to stoop down to the other person’s level – especially when one is being kicked around unfairly. Having digested all of this information, I’ve come to terms with the fact that it was meant-to-be that the STBX and I were not-mean-to-be.