Communicating effectively in marriage is one of the most powerful ways that couples can strengthen their relationship.
With 90% accuracy, Dr. John Gottman, a world-renounded marriage researcher can determine whether or not a couple will eventually get divorced. A part of his analysis includes listening closely to their language.
Here are the four most dangerous types of communication that Gottman warns will destory your marriage:
There is a huge difference between giving your spouse loving feedback and attacking their character.
When you criticize your spouse, you are identifying their faults to make them feel bad about themselves. Be careful not to harmfully judge your partner in ways that belittles them or makes them feel inferior to you.
Give them compliments and focus on their strengths. When you speak in terms of their weaknesses, frame them in a positive way. Talk about how their actions affect you, and give suggestions in humility and with love.
Bad example: "You are so lazy! You never pick up after yourself."
Positive example: "I'm having a difficult time keeping up with all the chores, and I'm starting to get frustrated and overwhelmed. Do you mind taking over the dinner dishes? That would be really helpful to me."
If you are name calling, insulting, mocking or ridiculing your spouse, you are verbally abusing them and showing contempt.
Stop it now.
Being mean and rude to your spouse is disrespectful and extremely harmful. They don't deserve it, and neither do you. Even if you are "just joking", it is hostile humor and should be avoided at all costs.
Always show treat your spouse with respect. Find ways to uplift them. Be kind, tender, considerate, and loving.
When there is a problem, do you constantly place the blame on your spouse? Are you always the victim?
If you never take responsibility for your actions, and constantly make your spouse the "bad guy", you are destructively defensive.
This invalidate their feelings, and it is controlling and manipulative. If you are defensive, you are constantly looking for excuses, instead of admitting you are wrong.
Bad example: "It's not my fault that we missed the payment! You never take responsibility for anything. If you picked up more of the slack, we wouldn't have these types of problems."
Good example: "I'm so sorry that we missed the payment. It's my fault that it happened. Maybe we can work on delegating responsibilites better, so that we don't have this problem again."
Saying nothing can be just as harmful as saying something.
"Stonewalling" is when the listener completely shuts off from the conversation. They may ignore their spouse or even leave the room completely. They close off, tune out, act busy, and turn away.
When your spouse is upset, don't give them the silent treatment. It's another form of disrespect. Instead, listen carefully to them. Try to understand their concerns.
Ignoring the sitation never helps solve a problem.
No matter how angry and upset you may be, always communicate out of love.
Communicating in a healthy, productive way is much more effective than trying to manipulate one another with your words and actions. Choose to respect your spouse in the way that you talk and respond to them.
Love is a powerful tool. Use it.
An important note: If you find yourself the victim of spousal abuse, do whatever you can to find help. There are many resources that you can turn to. Don't give up hope! There is a way to get out.