All couples are guilty of some or all of these behaviours in our closest relationships. According to Dr John Gottman, they are the biggest predictors of divorce if they become a habit in the relationship.
- CRITICISM: “you always…” “you never…” Why are you…”This is attacking your partner’s character with the intent of making someone right and someone wrong.
- CONTEMPT: Insults,name calling,sarcasm,hostile humour,mockery,sneering,eyeballing.This behaviour attacks your partner’s sense of self with the intent to insult.
- DEFENSIVENESS:Warding off a perceived attack by making excuses,meeting your partner’s complaint with a cross- complaint,ignoring what has been said,disagreeing then blaming the other,yes butting,repeating yourself and whining.
- STONEWALLING:Withdrawing as a way to avoid conflict ,stony silence,monosyllabic conversation,the silent treatment,leaving the room unexplained, changing the subject.
These behaviours,once identified and owned can be changed and replace by behaviours that will enhance rather than destroy relationships.Here are the antidotes:
- Specific Complaints about specific behaviours and how the behaviours impact on you replace the critical generalisations. Always listen respectfully to the reply.
- Validate you partner telling them what you specifically appreciate and admire – be specific rather than general.
- Accept Responsibility only for your part.Yes it is very hard to accept that there maybe an element of truth in the complaint.Learn from it.
- Identify your triggers – therapy can help you understand what you are reacting to.You inner critic is keeping you stuck as a victim – change the inner talk.
- Listen without trying to defend yourself – accept what might be reasonable and valid and think about how you can change.
Go to my Facebook page to see a short clip on these four destructive behaviours.