How to figure out unhealthy communication in marriage?
The joy of falling in love is usually – at least in part – rooted in the natural ease of communication with one another. You have so much in common. You think so much alike. You resolve your disagreements seemingly before they happen. You say please, thank you, and I’m sorry. You listen, care, avoid judgment, and put one another first. But somewhere along the line, unhealthy communication in marriage starts to eat away at your relationship.
It’s insidious and doesn’t always have a clear beginning. But if you don’t wake up and recognize it, it will definitely have a clear end.
If healthy communication is the glue that holds happy marriages together, then unhealthy communication in marriage can be the relationship’s unraveling.
Think about people and things you hold in high esteem. A work of art, a musician, an actor, a surgeon – they can all leave you in awe. But why? What makes you revere, applaud, respect one entity over another?
Chances are it has something to do with how effortless the execution of quality seems. When you are in the presence of “masters,” you don’t have to analyze their performances. You can simply enjoy them.
And so it is with happy couples. Most of us can think of at least one couple that has been married just this side of forever. What keeps them together? What is it they have that other couples don’t? How have they managed not to have unhealthy communication in their marriage?
Learning about the successful practices of those who have been married over 50 years can be a good way to gauge your own success. What are they doing that seems so “easy” for them and yet so difficult for you?
Sometimes unhealthy communication in marriage is about doing the opposite of the “right” thing. And sometimes it’s about simply not doing the “right” thing…or enough of it.
It may come as a surprise that the mark of a happy marriage isn’t “having no issues.” It’s not even the ability to resolve all or most of a couple’s issues.
According to marriage researcher John Gottman, 69% of issues in a marriage don’t get resolved. Yes, those happy couples who have made it past their golden wedding anniversaries are sitting on a lot of unresolved stuff!
What makes communication healthy and couples happy is how partners choose to respond to their issues – even the ones that don’t go away. The same is true for unhealthy communication.
Here are some behaviors and thought patterns that reveal unhealthy communication in marriage.
Anger is a natural emotion. But when it’s not kept in check and expressed in a responsible way, it can build up and eventually explode. And when that happens, the content of the message is lost to the intensity of delivery.
The person being yelled at doesn’t hear the hurt, frustration, or underlying fear of the other. S/he hears and remembers only the loud, offensive assault with negativity.
A primary goal of healthy communication is keeping your emotions under control so they don’t dominate your communication.
2. Blaming your spouse
Beginning statements with “you” is a slippery slope into blame. Words like “always” and “never” often follow, and before you know it, your spouse is playing defense.
Shifting your language to “I” statements can automatically soften the mood and make both of you willing to own part of the problem.
Always starting with a pointed finger and accusatory tone actually takes your power away and makes you a victim. Working on your self-awareness can help your relationship by helping you to stay contained and accountable for your own behavior.
Watch out this interesting video to know about the skills for healthy romantic relationships:
3. Having a competitive attitude
If you struggle with insecurities, you may not even realize what you do in order not to feel them. You may shelter your feelings, refuse to be vulnerable, and even project your feelings onto your spouse. This behavior is the sign of unhealthy communication in marriage.
Instead of being about the union, your focus is on yourself and how you can feel good enough. And that usually comes out as an effort to always be right or superior. So much energy goes into being on top that you lose sight of the “we” that defines marriage in the first place.