4 Minutes 4 Marriage “Love & Respect”


Thank you for visiting my new blog. My plan is to give information from psychologists and counselors on how to avoid the destructive behaviors that weaken relationships, and to offer suggestions for positive steps to enhance your marriage.

No, I don’t have a perfect marriage, and I don’t have all the answers. But I’ve studied people who have some of the answers, and I’d like to share them with you. You can decide what you agree with.

 Ladies, have you ever heard (or said) this? “My husband is like having another kid around the house!”

The words are usually accompanied by an exaggerated eye roll and followed by sympathetic nods or commiserating head shakes from the surrounding women.

 Or have our gentlemen readers ever wondered—“How many times a year do I have to get her a card to convince her I love her?”—as you mentally tally birthday, anniversary, Mother’s Day, and Valentine’s Day?

If relationship success could be boiled down to a bare minimum, it might be this: we want love and respect.

Most marriage problems could be improved if spouses would treat each other with love and respect. We promised on our wedding day to love and honor. If we could live up to that promise, our married lives would be much happier. But, of course, we don’t always succeed, and life is rarely that simple.

 The eye-rolling woman in the first example has forgotten to honor her husband, and regrettably, shares her disrespect with her friends. She receives their sympathy, which is what she wanted, but at a cost to her husband and her own opinion of him.

The man who is tired of remembering all the right occasions might not understand that receiving reminders of his love is reassuring to his wife, symbolizing her importance to him. When he supports Hallmark and lets the card company express what he feels (but may not know how to say), he demonstrates his love in the romantic language she craves.

 The eye-rolling woman is exhibiting criticism, one of the four behaviors that Dr. John Gottman, a professor in the Psychology Department at University of Washington, believes lead to the destruction of a marriage. In his book, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, And How You Can Make Yours Last, he calls criticism one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Like the horsemen of the final book of the Bible, these four behaviors announce the beginning of the end. Practice them often enough and our relationship will die.

Ladies, Gottman also says we are the ones who usually bring this first destructive force into our relationships.

But are we just supposed to ignore our spouses’ thoughtlessness? No. When we are upset or frustrated by their behavior, it is completely fair, and even constructive, to point out our reaction. It’s fine to say, “I’m disappointed. I hoped you’d be finished with that by now so we could spend time together.” Or, “I felt taken for granted when I had to pick up your dirty clothes off the floor.” Or, “I was embarrassed when you took so long getting ready and we arrived late.”

Those are specific complaints about a specific instance. They can be productive when they are heard, and a considerate partner makes changes because of them.

They become destructive when they become criticism. When they are no longer about a specific time, but instead become: “You ALWAYS…” or “You NEVER…” or “You SHOULD…” or when you stack up the complaints, “Not only did you leave the car in my way, you came home late, didn’t ask how my day went, and didn’t notice all that I’ve done around here.” When you complain, you are addressing one specific behavior. When you criticize, you are attacking the person.


What are some behaviors born of criticism? Insults, name calling, put downs, and sarcasm. Their opposites show respect: affirmation, praise, and affection.

Replace criticism with simple complaints that state your feelings about one specific behavior, without blame.

  1. Be generous with your compliments and signs of affection. Remember it takes 5 positive experiences to counteract one negative.

 Next post we will explore more of the destructive behaviors Dr. Gottman isolated, but here’s a sneak preview. Along with criticism, they are contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

For this week, become aware of your own behavior when you are less than respectful. Find little ways to demonstrate your love and respect.


“I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV …


Gottman, John M. & Silver, Nan (1995). Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: and How You Can Make Yours Last. Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group.

Thank you investing four minutes in your relationship!

Betty Arrigotti

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