Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse


For at least five years in conducting marriage counseling, I have taught my clients about “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalpyse,” as described by Dr. John Gottman, the pre-eminent researcher on relationships. His Four Horsemen are: Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt and Stonewalling. For Gottman, these are the four bad things that happen in couples communication. I find that they resonate with almost all couples. I’ll ask, Does this sound like you? Would either of you own this Horseman or that Horseman? I get a lot of nods and knowing glances.

As I introduce this to my clients, I usually offer that the term “Four Horsemen” comes the Book of Revelation in the Bible. But I actually had never looked that up. Until today. Thank you, Wikipedia.

I have to say that I haven’t spent much time in my life in the Book of Revelation, nor was I aware of the multiple interpretations of the Horsemen. For my couples, though, it really is sufficient to say: bad things that happen in communication.

My research today led me to the fabulous the painting by Victor Vasnetsov (1887) on this Wikipedia site, but there is a more famous wood cut by 15th century artist Albrecht Durer. Artists across the ages have drawn, painted and sculpted the Horsemen in beautiful ways.

Here’s the wiki link: