It is really easy to get caught up in our words and feelings when fighting with our husband or wife. Effective communication is hard to master but it is one of the most important factors in cultivating a successful relationship. Four of the most important habits to avoid when communicating with your spouse are defensiveness, criticism, stonewalling, and contempt. If they become regular habits they have the potential to poison a healthy relationship.
When in an argument with your significant other it is easy to feel as though you are being attacked and take a defensive stance. Getting defensive is a habit that is formed in order to feel protected instead of shamed. Rather than getting defensive though it is important to not shift blame and instead take responsibility where it is needed. Whenever you get defensive in an argument it can cause the argument to blow up out of proportion and cause more problems than there were in the beginning.
Criticism is also a very bad habit to form. You should never attack your spouse’s character or actions. If you constantly berate your spouse it can lead to them not feeling respected or loved and they will begin to build up walls and become disconnected. The best way to handle things when not getting along is to just express the way you feel and what caused you to feel that way in the first place and what could help remedy the feelings. You should try to avoid talking in an attacking or accusing manner because that can cause the conversation to escalate.
One habit that I am most definitely guilty of when arguing with my husband is stonewalling. What this means is leaving the conversation whether it be just mentally or also physically. If you are having a disagreement with your spouse it is not okay to just begin ignoring them or not acknowledging the conversation. This will only upset your spouse and you even more without resolving anything. If this begins to happen the best thing that can be done is for both parties to take a small breather and calm down so that the conversation can be finished in a healthier manner once everyone has gotten to a calmer state of mind.
The fourth habit and possibly the worst is contempt. When you look down on another person, that is contempt. If you see yourself as better than your spouse and you constantly scrutinize their every mistake then there is a very serious problem. Expressing your feelings as well as desires using ‘I’ statements is a healthy habit to form while avoiding contempt. If you are lonely and feel as though you do not see your spouse enough perhaps try telling them, “I need for us to spend some time together because I get lonely when you are at work late.” By stating your needs in that way you are creating a culture of appreciation instead of contempt.
These four habits can be incredibly detrimental to even the strongest of relationships. Learning to use positive communication habits can really help to keep your relationship healthy.