The Four Horsemen of Marriage Apocalypse

The Four Horsemen of Marriage Apocalypse

Song of Songs 2:15 – “…Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”

Once flirting turns to fighting in a relationship, especially a marriage, there’s a slippery slope that couples can start to go down if they don’t intentionally change course. Let’s call it the “Four Horsemen of Marriage Apocalypse”. These build upon each other and, if left unchecked, can lead to relational ruin.

  1. Criticism – You feel like the person does not have a problem; they are the problem.
  2. Contempt – Sneering, mocking, name calling, eye rolling, and volume raising.
  3. Defensiveness – Make excuses and blame shift, double down, change the subject.
  4. Stonewalling – Tune out, practice the silent treatment, leave the room, drive away. Most often it’s the husband, as in Song of Songs. (1)

Dr. John Gottman, a psychologist whose research is on marital stability, relationship analysis, and divorce prediction talks about something called the “harsh start up”. (2) His research has found that the first three minutes of a conversation usually predicts how the entire conversation will go. If a conversation starts harshly, it’s probably going to end in a similar, or worse, manner.

With that in mind, tough conversations are inevitable in marriage and one of the key things we’ve found is the importance of praying together at the start of the conversation. If you start with God in first position, in His rightful place, it’s a much higher likelihood that you and your spouse will act and communicate out of the Spirit and not the flesh, no matter the topic.

After 30 years of marriage, I can confidently say Grace and I have not always gotten this right. You have to remember that you’re both sinners, so you have to forgive and repent as needed. It’s also important to focus on progress, not perfection, in every aspect of marriage.

If you’re married, can you recall a time you have done any of these 4 things in your marriage? If you haven’t yet repented, ask your spouse for forgiveness. If you’re not yet married, have you treated family or friends in this way? Ask them for forgiveness and start learning how to take accountability in this way prior to getting married.


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Pastor Mark & Grace
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