The book is anchored in research from the University of Denver and their Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP).
So here are the four main reasons:
1. Escalation--People escalate the fight, rather than deescalate it. Harmful words and actions beget more harmful words and actions as each side tries to win the fight, rather than save the relationship.
2. Invalidation--You put down the other person (their feelings, thoughts, and character) with sarcasm, disrespect, and contempt, rather than raise them up with understanding, concern, comfort, and encouragement.
3. Accusation--Assuming the worst, you negatively interpret the actions and motives of another person, rather than looking at and accentuating the positive and giving them the benefit of the doubt.
4. Abandonment--Leaving the person emotionally and/or physically, you withdraw and avoid them and possibly even cheat on them, rather than engaging with and cleaving to each other, and working together to solve problems.
Essentially, these relationship issues all have to do with a breakdown of communication and trust--where instead of trying to work it out, there is a feeling that nothing can be solved by talking anymore and that there is no reason to even trust the other person.
Once trust and communication are broken--it is very difficult to go back and rebuild it.
Then instead of mending fences, people may choose the nuclear option: go to war, fight it out, threaten, hurt, or leave--and the relationship spirals to a timely demise.
What was once a nuclear family, or close relationship (friends, associates, etc.), may end up a broken and shattered one, full of hatred and as enemy combatants, perhaps not much better than the Hatfields and McCoys.
So the first thing is you have to decide whether you want to build the relationship or end it.
If you love the other person and want to be with them (and they with you)--then say and do positive things to maintain communication and trust--give selflessly to each other.
Relationships thrive when people behave as true friends, looking out for one another, sincerely--when they help their partners achieve their goals, grow as human beings, and find meaning and happiness.
A relationship is not a business transaction, but a joining of hearts and an intimacy of soul--it is based on mutual respect and goodwill.
If you really value the other person and the relationship--don't burn your bridges when things get heated, but cross and meet the other person (at least) halfway and embrace them with love and caring--most of the time, it will come back to you.
But at the same time don't be a fool--if the other person is wicked and cruel, out only for themselves, and would throw you under a bus in a moment--get with it and quick because the bridge is already burning and at a very high temperature. ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)