According to John Gottman’s research and the experience of most couples’ counselors, the behavior that predicts divorce with over 90% accuracy is stonewalling.
My wife and I didn’t divorce, but we were THAT close. Admittedly, during that time, I was guilty of resorting to what I also call radio silence.
“Oh yeah, I forgot. You’re perfect.”
I bet you’ve used this phrase before.
Or you’ve been on the receiving end. Or both.
It’s a classic example of sarcasm and it might seem harmless. Beware though, you’re on very thin ice here. That’s because sarcasm is psychologically rooted in anger, distrust, and frustration. It’s one of those nasty habits with damaging consequences, like smoking.
If you are frequently using sarcasm, believing this makes you sound smart or funny, think again. Your bad habit may be harming your relationship with your spouse (as well as with other people) much more than you realize.
Imagine you meet a friend from your youth whom you’ve lost touch with. It’s been years since you saw each other. Sure, it’s a nice surprise and you’re both pleased to meet.
But it feels a bit awkward, after so much time. It’s not the same anymore. There’s little to say aside from the usual “Do you have any kids?” or “Where do you work?”
The same thing happens to so many married couples. One day, they wake up and realize that the person lying next to them is a complete stranger.
Have you ever tried to apologize, but ended up in a much bigger fight? You wanted to say you were sorry, but then you said something that really set your partner off?
Admitting when you’re wrong is hard. Knowing when, and especially how, to apologize earns you appreciation and respect. On the other hand, doing it wrong consistently makes you look like a jerk. It builds resentment, and soon, your partner will probably start behaving the same way. Therefore, this post is not about preventing you from messing things up, but what you can do about it afterwards.
It’s often said that marriage is about sacrifice and compromise. That doesn’t sound so great, does it? The reality is, though, that in much of your marriage, you will be in constant agreement to do something, one way or another, with more than a large gray area in between.
This can be anything from picking where to go out for dinner, to where you will go on vacation this year, and similar things. Or it can mean more serious decisions, like moving across the country because your partner got a promotion, and now you have to leave your friends and family behind. Agreeing to do something, when done properly, can enhance a feeling of connection and harmony, while the opposite leads to frustration, anger, depression, and all sorts of really toxic behaviors.
Imagine you want to talk with your spouse in the middle of a tornado. Debris is flying around, you are shouting, your spouse is shouting, the wind is roaring. You can’t hear each other. Nice setting to have a talk, right?
Now, imagine you decide to get out of the way of the tornado. You simply wait for it to pass. Then, you invite your spouse to sit with you on the porch, have a drink, and talk. Which way would you prefer? I mean, if you’re not an obsessive adrenaline junkie, the answer is clear. This post is about how to avoid getting to a point when all you hear is roaring and things get really nasty. That’s when feelings get hurt.
Say you bought something in a store and it doesn’t work. You call the company’s customer support. Whether you are right or wrong, two scenarios can unfold.
In the first scenario the customer support representative goes into defence mode. Without even knowing the details, they start implying it’s your fault, making you feel like an idiot. In the process, they’re making you angrier by the second. In fact, they are making you feel sorry you bought their product in the first place.
Do you have disagreements with your spouse? If you do, congratulations! That means your relationship is alive and kicking. All happy couples have conflicts. If you didn’t have any, I’d be worried for you. That’s because when you don’t care enough to disagree, your relationship may just as well be dead.
In this post you’re going to learn how to express disagreement in a structured and non-threatening way. If you can handle complaints (and even criticism) without feeling attacked, you can turn any disagreement into a connecting exercise that only makes your relationship stronger.
Imagine you’re a small business owner. A difficult issue comes up and it involves one of your most valuable customers. You know each other for years and they’ve been there in the good times and the bad times.
But something has come up and you need to have a sincere talk with them. So you pick up the phone. Then what?
Have you ever been on a diet? Has it ever happened that while you were going toward the fridge, you were telling yourself, “I shouldn’t eat that cake, I really shouldn’t.”
Then your hand somehow got into the fridge. You actually saw it going in there! You grabbed the plate with the cake, took it out, and ate it. What happened?