Have you ever felt like anger played a productive role in your relationship? Fighting can sometimes be confused with passion. Disagreements are natural and unavoidable, anger and fighting on the other hand are unproductive and damaging to a marriage. If you can relate to any of these unhealthy communication habits it’s time to learn a better way. Save the passion for the bedroom!
The 4 most common unhealthy communication habits:
1. Yielding: Yielding means giving up on the issue to avoid an argument. This habit results in an imbalance of power: one person wins and the other looses– and leads to symptoms like depression and resentment. Plus, the problem starting the arguments never gets solved!
2. Freezing: Freezing happens when you refuse to talk about the issue. You may avoid starting the conversation at all, or walk away and shut down during the conversation. When communication freezes, you build icy walls of stress and tension in your marriage, leading to feelings of anxiety and emotional distance.
3. Fight ’till you win: This is the familiar yelling, bickering and arguing that many couples face. Fighting leads to ill will and excessive anger. It can develop into controlling behaviors, and verbal or even physical abuse. Like yielding, fighting leads to an unbalanced win-lose outcome which can trigger depression and resentment in your spouse..
4. Flight: Do you find that because you feel unable to address the issues in your relationship you’re tempted to turn your time and energy elsewhere? That’s called flight.
Sound familiar? Here’s what to do instead…
Avoid negative phrases.
A big part of how to communicate in a relationship is keeping the tone positive and supportive. Remember, you’re on the same team here! A good place to start is to delete “But”. “But” is a little word with big consequences. It is like an eraser, it cancels out what your partner just said and sets you pulling against each other. Also, avoid joking or poking fun at your spouse. What you may find funny could be a hidden sore spot and be very hurtful.
Try to see things from your spouse’s point of view.
You don’t need to agree with your spouse (hey, you’re two different people after all!), however you can take the time to understand his or her underlying concerns. Many arguments stem from focusing on solutions— there are lots of ways of solving a problem once you know what the real concerns are. Once you’ve both stated your worries and desires, you can work together to find a satisfying solution. Being flexible is a key part of communicating well and it’s critical for making a relationship last.
Keep your cool.
If you’re going to tackle a tough topic, make sure both of you are fed, rested and comfortable. Chances are much higher that the conversation will blow up if you’re cranky to begin with! And remember, if you start to get angry, take a break! Put the talk on hold—drink some water, go for a short walk, or anything else calming—and then return once you’ve both calmed down.