Relationship Minute: Get curious

When your partner is upset with you, your first reaction may be to defend yourself.

But here’s the thing: even if you think they’re being unreasonable, they’re still upset. And that’s worth digging into.

It’s almost always about something deeper. Explore that. Breathe, listen, and ask questions. Seek to understand their position.

They’ll feel heard, de-escalate, and you’ll both have a better understanding of what caused them to get upset. They may even apologize if they said something unkind.

And besides, nobody has ever calmed down after being told to calm down.

Related blog posts:

The Relationship Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 25 June 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

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Relationship Minute: Four Horsemen Bingo

Identifying the Four Horsemen (Contempt, Criticism, Defensiveness, Stonewalling) takes time and, while there’s no shame in having a reference, it can be tricky to spot them in yourself or someone you interact with regularly.

Instead, you can practice looking for them in people (or characters) you only see semi-regularly from a distance. Watch for the Four Horsemen on TV or in movies. Reality TV is great for this, but scripted scenes work, too.

The famous “we were on a break” scene from Friends hits three out of Four Horsemen—can you spot them?

For a nice example of stonewalling, look no further than this scene from Fargo (contains strong language).

What can you identify? Learning to recognize these warning signs externally will make it easier to keep tabs on them when they come up in your own relationship.

Related blog posts:

The Relationship Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 11 June 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.