I’ve always been a big believer that people can’t fundamentally change who they are; and while that is true- if your partner has behaviors you don’t like the bottom line and the best way to deal with them all stems from you and your response to them. In other words- while your partner may NOT be able to fundamentally change–YOU have the power to change the way you react to your partner…and often THE way you react- will elicit a similar action in your partner. We all just want to be validated and NOT left in pain. And apparently according to Dr. John Gottman, there are five negative patterns that can predict divorce, aka, if you and your spouse engage in them- it’s pretty much written in BLOOD that the two of you will get divorced.
CRITICISM: This is one of the MOST dangerous things you can do when arguing with a spouse….because its simply a way of fueling the attack. Criticism –any way you slice it–is not constructive and only leads to and escalation of your fight. Essentially When you criticize your spouse what you are truly saying is: I am perfect and you are defective (and let’s face it NONE of us are perfect except for Jon Hamm).
CONTEMPT: This behavior is toxic in fact it’s sulfuric acid for love and erodes immune system. In a nutshell contempt is disrespect- and is more often than not perpetrated by people who are highly educated. Some of us develop a level of arrogance and we need to keep that arrogance in check and always stay humble and maintain a neutral level with your spouse.Oh and contempt will never be an effective tool for getting what you want from your spouse.
DEFENSIVENESS: Displaying defensiveness in arguments, is just another way of not taking responsibility for part of problem. As a couple you both need to take responsibility for being at least a part of the problem. In doing so, you are creating the that you are a team- and you are willing to work on your problems together.
STONEWALLING: Spouses trying not to make an argument worse often just shut up and stop talking. But when faced with silence you only manage to escalate so when you’re in the thick of an argument don’t shut down!
NAGGING: Nobody wants to be told they are nagger, which makes them feel as though they are being accused of well NAGGING. SO what can you do to stop from being a nagger or nagging? Listen to what your spouse is saying, and where it is really where does it come from o and try to understand that a partner nags when he or she feels that you are not listening to him/her. So for example if your wife asks you to do something and you just don’t listen, chances are you will GET NAGGED. So what can you do- to stave off the nagging- listen and validate your better half- and chances are– YOU”ll never get nagged again. A partner will nag you when they feel like they are being blown off–therefore– DON’T blow off your partner.
Oh and here are several ABSOLUTE phrases you should NEVER under any circumstances utter during an argument with your spouse:
#1 YOU NEVER
#2 YOU ALWAYS
Both of those phrases are condemnations of your partner’s personality–remember you never want to condemn!
So…in summation, what have I gleaned from these tips– especially…since I am committed to staying married?
Don’t act superior to your partner-have respect and realize your limitations and your partner’s limitations –so got any to add?