Communication issues happen to be one of the top reasons couples find themselves in counseling. Having healthy communication is extremely significant in order to feel heard and intimately connected. Having healthy communication allows you to solve issues successfully and assert your desires without conflict. When you are able to communicate in a healthy manner perpetual problems are able to be solved more readily. However, many couples struggle to communicate productively and find themselves communicating with one some, or all of the four harmful communication styles that can forecast a relationship ending.
- Contempt. This transpires when you are intentionally interacting with your partner in a mean and cruel way. This can include taunting, treating with disdain, name calling, invalidation, and nonverbal communication such as a dismaying posture. Due to the intent of content is to demean the other this is the number one predictor of divorce and a relationship’s demise. In a verbally abusive situation, each partner commences being verbally abusive and hard to not optically discern your partner as an enemy.
Example: “How could you make such a stupid decision? How did you even think that would be a good idea? (Scoffs) It amazes me how dumb you can be.”
2.Defensiveness. This is a stance that happens when one perceived they are being attacked. In order to ward off ones perceived as of responsibility or failure that they do not feel comfortable with admitting or accepting. Additionally, this can be perceived as blaming the other person or deflecting to not take responsibility.
Person 1: Did you get a chance to grab the diapers from the store?
Person 2: No. I have not had time at all today. I have to pick up the kids every day and you know that. Why can’t you just give me a break? It was one simple mistake!
- Criticism. This occurs when one or both partners’ attacks the other based on perceived imperfections. This can emerge when one uses, “always” or “never” as qualifiers. Utilizing these terms makes it appear that the other party cannot change. When there is criticism the other person feels nagged at or picked apart. There is no constructive aspect to what is being said.
Example:” You always forget to wash the dishes. You only do them after they are falling down and I point it out to you. Why do you have to be so self-absorbed?”
- Stonewalling. Stonewalling transpires whenever you feel like you are putting up a wall between you and your partner. This could be a physical, mental, or emotional wall. This could look similar to leaving the room, tuning the person out, and becoming unresponsive. This may happen because you felt insulted, overlooked, or believe that there is “no point in continuing the conversation”. When these thoughts begin to pile up you can become so over-stimulated that your body literally shuts down. This can be a form of protecting yourself from further perceived harm. Furthermore, this could be your body going in to fight or flight because you have remained overstimulated for an extended period of time. Consequently, if you find yourself disengaging from the conversation check to see if you are doing that as a form of punishment.
The four unhealthy communication styles can be precursors to a divorce or cessation of a dating relationship. However, of all the four communication patterns contempt is the highest predictor of relationship dissolution. The heart behind contempt is to attack the character of the other to make the person feel less than. If you have found yourself frustrated with perpetual issues with no solution this may be due to one of the unhealthy styles blocking a resolution. In my next blog, I will discuss ways in which to eliminate these four patterns by giving you the solution to these styles. If you feel that your relationship has some of the unhealthy communication styles feel free to reach out for help. You can schedule an appointment with me online at https://www.schedulicity.com/scheduling/SMAHMC/services