You never call me, Alex always calls!”
These absolute statements and ‘you’ statements all fall into the trap of the first horsemen. These are examples of an attack on personality. When criticism became the norm contempt began infiltrating all of our conversations.
Gottman describes contempt as long-simmering negative thoughts for each other. In Gottman’s research he describes this as the worst horsemen and the number one predictor of divorce (Gottman Inst.). As my relationship with my mother grew more intense we began to have contempt for each other. One thing we would argue about consistently was when I wouldn’t call her and I would get so resentful and negative when we would discuss it: “You are so paranoid Mom! It’s like you think I am actively avoiding you.” When we would fight we would be disrespectful to each other and our body language would be extremely hostile. One frustrating thing when we were in this phase was that my Mom always demanded respect from her children but did not necessarily see it as something she had to give back. So in an extremely contemptuous conversation both our body language would be aggressive but I would be the only one who had to “lose the attitude” and “look at [Mom] when [Mom is] talking!” Contempt was quick to move onto …show more content…
It is an example of perceiving a statement as an accusation and turning the table and accusing the other person. If we were interested in fixing our relationship at this stage then accepting responsibility would be a big step. Gottman explains that “instead of being defensive, take responsibility [...] for even a small part of the problem and then you 're a team working on this joint problem together”(Cooper Interview). Instead of accepting responsibility we moved onto the last horsemen: stonewalling.
Stonewalling is the last horsemen for a deteriorating relationship. It represents when a couple stops communicating altogether, basically going nonverbal. Gottman found that non communication usually starts when one person tries to “not make it worse, they’re thinking to themselves: just shut up. [...] A stonewaller is trying to calm down and not make it worse. But when you are faced with someone who is silent like that, you escalate” (Cooper Interview). In the worst time in our relationship my mother and I would ignore eachother.
“Nicole, mom’s on the phone” “Tell her I’m