Most of the way I coach deals with mending the damage done to marital relationships in blended families. Generally, the harm is brought on by 4 unhappy, relentless characters that, when given the chance, cause destruction and devastation and demolish any possiblility of closeness and longevity in a marriage.
What are these evil characters? Learning how to spot these marriage-destroyers will aid you in preventing them from gaining power over your marriage. As soon as you’re presented with them, I’m certain you will realize that they’re familiar characters – they visit every relationship pretty regularly – it’s the couples that let them move in that are done for!
#1-CRITICISM. Anyone can have a complaint about what their husband or wife does that they disapprove of, yet the instant they criticize their partner, that is when they have overstepped and invited danger to enter their relationship.
Having some complaint, such as, “I get weary of having to do our dishes so frequently, and I get disappointed and frustrated when you consistently leave your dishes in the sink and on the counter” is understandable, and can easily be worked with. However, criticism like, “You are selfish and lazy! Why are you watching TV when it’s obvious that the sink is piled high with dishes that must be done! What’s your excuse for not doing the dishes this time?!” is a direct assault on your spouse’s character and immediately their defenses go up, and either way this is a losing battle. When criticism becomes a daily occurance, you will pave the path that will allow other villains to come into your home and tear down your marriage.
CONTEMPT- The 2nd Villain. This one is impossible to hide. From the moment it enters your house it manifests itself in the form of scorning and scoffing, rolling of the eyes, mocking, and biting remarks. These things send a message of repulsion to your spouse. What you’re really saying is that you do not care about their feelings, opinions or beliefs. And when your partner acts this way toward you, the chances of you becoming even more defended and rash is amplified.
DEFENSIVENESS-The 3rd Villain. Although it looks like you are defending yourself, what you’re doing, in reality, is blaming your partner instead. You’re throwing blame straight back to them and telling them that they are the problem, not you. That’s what happens when the partner is perceived to be the problem, instead of the behavior. As soon as one partner gets defensive, the argument will continue to escalate, with more and more criticism and contempt shot by both sides.
Once these three are allowed to go unchecked and out of control, the fourth and final villain makes its presence known – STONEWALLING. The walls go up and the hits are met with absolute silence. You’re being stonewalled when you keep going on and on, and your partner doesn’t respond at all – they neither look at you nor give any visual sign that they can hear you. When you still don’t get it, then the stonewalling partner will leave the room altogether, paying no attention to you as you persist in your angry tirade. Stonewalling happens when one partner has been unceasingly plagued by heaps of negativity flung at them that they really can’t take anymore of it – they decide that this defense tactic is the only way to keep themselves safe.
Once all 4 of these harmful forms of communication become permanent members of your household, your marriage relationship will be taken prisoner and it will require some serious techniques to effectively battle them!
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