A 40 year study of couples at the Gottman institute has revealed some predictors of divorce. Criticism, stonewalling, contempt and especially defensiveness are the main factors. If you find yourself getting defensive, there are ways to diffuse the situation. You should consider why you are getting defensive and don’t try to raise your voice, unsettling your partner. Listen to what your partner has to say and stay on topic, don’t bring up things beyond the conversation. Take responsibility for your part of the argument an don’t agree then add a but to your reasoning. Finally, don’t intellectualize but honor and respect each other.
- Raising your voice in an argument shows a lack of control and a lack of respect.
- Actively listen. Truly value what your partner is telling you. It isn’t always about winning.
- Don’t bring up the past. Discuss the issue at hand and don’t fight yesterdays battle.
“These communication sins are surprisingly common in most marriages: criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling, the term for emotionally withdrawing from your partner.”