HomeTipsConflict Resolution in Virtual Couples Therapy: Gottman's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Conflict Resolution in Virtual Couples Therapy: Gottman’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Marriages in big cities face unique challenges. Life can feel more hectic, and between busy work schedules and other commitments, there’s often little time left to nurture the relationship. The complexities of modern urban living can place immense strain on relationships. Thankfully, most couples recognize the value therapy can offer in helping to overcome many of the common challenges that can arise in any marriage. Some couples find that attending virtual couples therapy in Chicago provides the perfect solution for their unique needs.

Understanding Virtual Couples Therapy 

Virtual couples therapy is like any other relationship counseling session. The only difference is that we take a more modern approach, allowing partners to attend their sessions online via phone or video calls. Our newer methods offer a more convenient way for you and your partner to get professional relationship guidance and support from the comfort of your home. 

Our approach eliminates the stress of finding a time when both partners are available for an in-person counseling session. Schedule your sessions for a convenient time when you and your partner will be at home, or choose a time when you and your partner can each log on to the session remotely from your respective workplaces.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in Virtual Couples Therapy 

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a theory popularized by the professional psychologist and researcher Dr. John Gottman. The concept outlines four destructive behaviors that often lead to the breakdown and downfall of a marriage or relationship.

Here are the Four Horsemen of the (relationship) Apocalypse and how to identify and address them in virtual couples therapy.

Horseman 1: Criticism

One of the first signs of relationship problems is when one partner feels that the other’s behavior or persona has changed. Criticism goes beyond expressing dissatisfaction with a person’s surface qualities and usually involves attacking someone’s core personality traits or character. These attacks often inspire toxic emotions that can erode the foundation of any relationship. In virtual couples counseling, a therapist will help you recognize when criticism surfaces in your marriage and guide you toward finding healthier ways of expressing concern or dissatisfaction that don’t result in an attack on your partner’s character.

Horseman 2: Contempt 

Contempt is a toxic emotion that can result in displays of disrespect, disdain, or superiority towards your partner. Working with a virtual therapist will help you identify the signs of contempt, such as sarcasm and belittling comments. Your therapist will provide various solutions enabling couples to replace contemptuous behavior with empathy and understanding. This process can help create a positive and respectful atmosphere in your marriage, resulting in a more fulfilling bond.

Horseman 3: Defensiveness 

It’s natural human instinct to be defensive when we feel attacked. In marriages and relationships, defensiveness can arise as a protective mechanism in response to actual or imagined criticism or contempt. Relying on this defense mechanism can lead to partners avoiding responsibility for their mistakes or weaknesses and engaging in unhealthy blame games. This avoidance can make achieving a healthy relationship even more challenging. 

Virtual counseling sessions can help you and your partner identify and take responsibility for your actions. This radical form of acceptance will help everyone feel they have a safe space to express themselves without fear of blame or judgment.

Horseman 4: Stonewalling 

Stonewalling is a passive-aggressive game where one person emotionally withdraws from a relationship, leaving the other to feel frustrated and unheard. This concept covers a variety of situations, such as a partner shutting down mid-conversation, becoming unresponsive to the issues at hand, or when one person physically withdraws from the other (such as by coming home late or spending hours or days away from home without valid explanation). 

Therapists work with couples to break down emotional barriers and encourage active engagement. This process can help you and your partner be present for each other, learn more effective problem-solving methods, or create more opportunities for intimacy and connection. 

Advantages and Considerations of Virtual Marriage Counseling in Chicago 

Here are some of the benefits of seeking virtual marriage counseling in the busy city of Chicago: 

  • It’s Accessible and Convenient: You can access virtual therapy from the comfort of your home, eliminating the hassle of commuting to your therapist’s office. Virtual therapy also breaks geographical barriers, granting you access to a broader pool of experienced and qualified therapists.
  • It Fosters Anonymity and Privacy: Virtual therapy provides the required privacy for couples to discuss sensitive topics without being judged by others.
  • It’s Flexible: When partners have busy work schedules, parenting responsibilities, or other commitments, virtual therapy offers greater flexibility when scheduling sessions. This flexibility allows our patients to work on their relationships without disrupting their daily routines.

Aside from the benefits, it’s important to note that issues such as having an unstable internet connection can impact the effectiveness of your personal experience, and we recommend some preplanning. Also, remember to do your research when choosing a therapist. Read reviews or ask for recommendations from another medical professional you trust. Some due diligence will help ensure you’ve selected the right therapist.

Final Words 

Virtual couples therapy in Chicago can help you and your partner fight the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and address any other challenges in your relationship. Learning to deal with destructive behaviors like criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling in your marriage will reignite your relationship, leading to increased intimacy and emotional connection between you and the people in your life.

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