Your body may be having a negative reaction to your relationship. Not only have hostile disagreements between partners been associated with increases in blood pressure, supportive comments do not decrease blood pressure. The guru of couples research, John Gottman, has identified four behaviors that contribute to what he calls the “cascade toward divorce.” Gottman refers to these behaviors as “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” because they signal dark times ahead. The behaviors are: criticism (attacking your partner’s personality or character), contempt (insulting your partner and communicating that he or she disgusts you and is below you), defensiveness (a failure to take responsibility for your actions—see above where I discuss saying you’re sorry), and stonewalling (observed more often in men, this pattern is defined by a complete withdrawal from interactions). Together, the Four Horsemen are a terrible combination, but we all do some of these behaviors some of the time. Look for any one of them and try your best to eliminate from the relationship.
MORE: 5 Secrets to a Successful Relationship, From a Couples Therapist