In Houston relationship counseling, one of the simplest pieces of marriage advice I offer is to avoid behaviors that are damaging to your relationship and be aware when you’re headed down a bad path. But how do you recognize signs of trouble when they come up.

Dr. John Gottman has identified several behaviors that are good predictors of a troubled relationship, which he calls the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Keep an eye out for them as an indication that you may want to seek help from Houston relationship counseling.

Criticizing vs. Complaining – Every relationship has problems, and complaining when your partner has made a mistake or failed to follow-through on something is normal. But when you notice that these complaints start becoming overall criticism of your significant other’s character or personality, this may mean trouble. For example, a complaint would be, “You forgot to bring the milk home like I asked,” while a criticism of the same action might be, “You always forget everything. I can’t count on you!”

Contempt – This is behavior that I often see from clients struggling in Houston relationship counseling. It is disrespectful and communicates your disgust, such as sneering, making sarcastic remarks, rolling your eyes, mocking, insulting, being condescending, or engaging in hostile humor. The best marriage advice for fighting is to work towards reconciliation, and these behaviors won’t do that. Instead, they’ll actually make the conflict worse.

Becoming Defensive – “I’m not the problem; you are!” Don’t avoid responsibility for your part in the conflict instead of acknowledging the issue. Just because your partner made a mistake yesterday doesn’t mean that their complaint from today isn’t true. Take the time to listen with an open mind.

Stonewalling – If you have a pattern of intense arguing, or when contempt, criticism, and defensiveness have become a regular part of your communication, often one partner will eventually act as if he or she couldn’t care less. The stonewaller will simply tune out.

Seek Houston Relationship Counseling If the Four Horsemen Have Appeared in Your Marriage

Do you recognize these behaviors from your marriage? Then it may be time to seek marriage advice from Houston relationship counseling.