Communication is important in relationships because it helps us say things the way others need to hear them. It’s like dancing together but instead, sometimes communication is used as a bow and arrow. We’re shooting words but not aiming them correctly.
A son asked his mother what was for dinner? She said quiche and he said ugh I hate quiche. She then said, how about egg and bacon pie? He said yes!!! I love that. In case you didn’t know quiche is eggs baked with an addition of other meats/veggies. This mother was wise because she knew what to say to her son and in a way, he could understand.
This is the same thing we should be doing in our relationships and marriage. This proves that two people can be in the same relationship and see things differently, hear things differently, and understand things differently.
Communication does for relationships what breathing does for the human body: it makes survival possible. Love without communication is worthless. We broadcast through our words what is in our hearts.
So what happens when your communication isn’t providing you with the results you want?
If not, don’t feel bad because can you recall the last time you took a communication class that actually taught you how to communicate better in relationships?
This blog post will give you four things to avoid while communicating that will allow your words to provide clarity and not more confusion.
Dr. John Gottman studied thousands of couples and one thing he has found is that the four horsemen, as he calls them, can be deadly to relationships if you let them run rampant.
What does it mean? Criticism is attacking one’s character by pointing out their character flaws instead of focusing on the behavior. You’re focusing on who they are as a person. You’re tearing down your spouse or partner’s self-esteem with verbal abuse. Your desired want wish becomes the goal and in the process, you assassinate their character.
It looks like: “You are so forgetful. You can’t remember anything! I reminded you this morning and you still forgot. What’s the point of reminding you if you aren’t going to remember.”
What to do instead: How you start the conversation matters. Try using a calm and gentle start. Instead you can say, “We don’t have any milk? Bummer, I won’t be able to eat cereal today. Do you think you can stop and grab some tomorrow?
What does it mean? Contempt is feeling superiority over your spouse, disrespecting, or belittling them. It usually happens after you’ve criticized your spouse and now you’ve taken it a step farther! This is where your tone of voice matters greatly. Harmful to relationships because it displays your disgust. Often times this happens when negative thoughts have been simmering.
It looks like: Sarcasm, cynicism, name-calling, eye-rolling, mockery, disrespectful, and aggressive humor.
What to do instead: Create a culture of appreciation and positivity. Show your spouse some appreciation (link gratitude cards) for the things they already do a great job at. Remember a person who feels appreciated will do more than what’s expected.
What does it mean? Defensiveness is used during conflict to portray yourself as the victim. You aren’t willing to own your ish (shiznit) and shift the blame to your spouse. This is the fastest way to escalate conflict.
It looks like: “Why didn’t you just do it then?” “Don’t blame me because you’re the one….” “This isn’t my fault” “You were the one who…”
What to do instead: We all have been defensive before so don’t feel judged or attacked. Next time you want to be defensive try these, “Oops, my bad I forgot” “I dropped the ball” “That’s my fault” “I’ll do better to remember” “Let me take care of that right now”
What does it mean? This usually happens in response to contempt. You are tired of being blamed or criticized so you shut down and don’t respond. You withdraw from the conversation and rather than deal with the issue. It may seem like a good idea at the time BUT you have to deal with issues at some point. Ignoring them doesn’t make them go away.
It looks like: avoid eye contact, tune out, act busy, or distract yourself with another activity, completely ignore, bottling feelings until you explode
What to do instead: Let your partner know that you’re overwhelmed with this conversation right now and you need to calm down. Say can we continue it after I take a break for 20 mins, take a quick walk, or something you find soothing. You must follow through with what you’re asking. After you’ve taken that break or whatever you chose then it’s time to follow up and continue the conversation. Don’t spend your time stewing or focusing on the issue because you will only work yourself up again. Use the time to calm down and prepare to return to the conversation.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Now that you have some tools and skills. Use them! As soon as you see these four marriage killers trying to sneak their way into your relationship, remember what you should do instead to help you manage conflict and communicate better. The more you practice these skills the more you will be able to enjoy your marriage to continue pushing the limits on love!!
Do you find yourself doing one of these four killers? You’re in a judge-free zone! Tell me in the comments..