Today on The Gottman Relationship Blog, we are excited to introduce a brand-new 5 week series on The Four Horsemen! Though we have mentioned them in previous postings, we have not yet had the chance to go into much depth. From our earlier blog series on Conflict Management and The Sound Relationship House, you may have gathered that The Four Horsemen are a pretty big deal in our work. They are. And here’s why.
Many of you may be familiar with the fact that Dr. Gottman can predict the long-term success or failure of a relationship with 94% accuracy by watching the first three minutes of a couple having a conflict discussion. What you may not know, however, is the basis for his predictions. His projections are based largely on the success or failure of repair attempts, and on the observation of four potentially destructive communication styles that he calls “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” In today’s posting, we will introduce this topic by sharing a quiz with you.

The following questionnaire assesses the presence of the Four Horsemen (criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling) in your relationship. Read each statement, and choose True or False.
When we discuss our relationship issues:

1. I feel attacked or criticized when we talk about our disagreements. (T/F)

2. I usually feel like my personality is being assaulted. (T/F)

3. In our disputes, at times, I don’t even feel like my partner likes me much. (T/F)

4. I have to defend myself because the charges against me are so unfair. (T/F)

5. I often feel unappreciated by my partner. (T/F)

6. My feelings and intentions are often misunderstood. (T/F)

7. I’m not appreciated for all the good I do in this relationship. (T/F)

8. I often just want to leave the scene of arguments. (T/F)

9. I get disgusted by all the negativity between us. (T/F)

10. I feel insulted by my partner at times. (T/F)

11. I sometimes just clam up and become quiet. (T/F)

12. I can get mean and insulting in our disputes. (T/F)

13. I basically feel disrespected. (T/F)

14. Many of our issues are just not my problem. (T/F)

15. The way we talk makes me want to withdraw from the whole relationship. (T/F)

16. I think to myself, “Who needs all this conflict?” (T/F)

17. My partner never really changes. (T/F)

18. Our problems have made me feel desperate at times. (T/F)

19. My partner doesn’t face issues responsibly and maturely. (T/F)

20. I try to point out flaws in my partner’s personality that need improvement. (T/F)

21. I feel explosive and out of control about issues at times. (T/F)

22. My partner uses phrases like “You always or “You never” when complaining (T/F)

23. I often get the blame for what are really our shared problems. (T/F)

24. I don’t have a lot of respect for my partner’s position on our basic issues. (T/F)

25. My partner can be quite selfish and self-centered. (T/F)

26. I feel disgusted by some of my partner’s attitudes. (T/F)

27. My partner gets far too emotional. (T/F)

28. Small issues often escalate out of proportion. (T/F)

29. Arguments seem to come out of nowhere. (T/F)

30. My partner’s feelings get hurt too easily. (T/F)

Feeling wonderful? Feeling not so wonderful? This quiz, unlike many of the previous questionnaires we have shared with you on The Gottman Relationship Blog, has no key. There is no number of True or False responses to add up for a numerical assessment of your relationship. Assessing the presence or absence of the Four Horsemenis complicated – each Horseman has a specific effect, but the appearance of one is often accompanied by others.
If today’s quiz has you worried, confused, and seeking more information, make sure to follow our postings over the next few weeks! We will be covering some of Dr. Gottman’s proven antidotes for fighting off the Four Horsemen, and offering you tools he has created to help couples in all areas of conflict management. We are spending quite some time on this topic, as mastery of these skills is critical for maintaining a strong, healthy, and loving relationship.

Please note: Dr. Gottman’s decades of research with more than 3,000 couples has allowed him to create a method for helping couples break through barriers to achieve greater understanding, connection, and intimacy in their relationships. On The Gottman Relationship Blog, we cannot possibly share all of the skills that he has discovered! To dive deeper into the material we mention in these blog posts, and to learn much more about his findings and how they can help your relationship, make sure to “Like” our Facebook page and pick up a copy of one of his books: The Seven Principles For Making Marriage WorkThe Relationship Cure, or his most recent release, What Makes Love Last?.


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Ellie Lisitsa

Ellie Lisitsa is a staff writer at The Gottman Institute and a regular contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog. Ellie is pursuing her B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis on Cognitive Dissonance at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.