Communication in Marriage
With all of the discussions on marriage and divorce today, many agree that there are four marriage miscommunication signs that a marriage may be in serious trouble. The Gottman Institute in Seattle, Washington identified four deadly communication styles that can be deadly to a marriage. They called these communication styles “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Communication in marriage - 1st problem - Criticism
The first sign is when one or both partners are critical of one another. Criticism is an attack or accusation on your partner’s character or personality and not their behavior or actions. Criticism of your spouse is so deadly because it attacks a person’s sense of self.
Communication in marriage - 2nd problem - Contempt
The second deadly sign is contempt which is the intent to insult or psychologically abuse your partner. This is the most deadly of the four horsemen. Contempt defines disrespect and is fueled by a negative internal script where you find nothing you admire in the person that you once loved. It is “looking down” at your spouse from a superior place, believing you are a superior parent, cleaner, more intelligent, more knowledgeable, etc. Those showing contempt vilify their spouse in their own mind.
Communication in marriage - 3rd problem - Defensiveness
The third deadly communication sign that a marriage is in trouble is defensiveness. Unfortunately defensiveness breeds defensiveness in the other person. It is a natural reaction of self-protection to fend off a perceived attack. This horseman is especially destructive because the person who is attacked becomes the ‘victim” and in turn feels “justified” to be defensive.
Communication in marriage - 4th problem - Stonewalling
The fourth horseman that destroys a marriage is stonewalling. Stonewallers exit a confrontation either physically or emotionally. An interesting note is that when a person allows their stress levels to rise they can become overwhelmed and experience a “system overload or flooding” making constructive discussion impossible. This is the reason that a person easily stressed often becomes a stonewaller. If you are struggling with your marriage, we can help.
Mike DeMoss specializes in the Gottman Method at the Family Christian Counseling Center. To read more about this method click the link.