Is your relationship as harmonious as it seems? New research suggests there may be trouble ahead for couples who exhibit the following behaviors.
Playing the victim is a common tactic for avoiding responsibility, and it can have negative consequences in a relationship. If neither party is willing to admit fault and accept responsibility for misdeeds, it becomes impossible to correct bad behavior and work together to achieve compromise. For example, say you’re both running late to an important meeting. Is your first instinct to apologize for spending too much time in the shower that morning… or to blame your partner for losing the keys?
In most real world situations, you will both be at fault to a certain degree when conflicts arise. Psychologist John Gottman says that taking responsibility for your own contributions to a bad situation can be uncomfortable, but it prevents the situation from escalating into something worse. Finger-pointing and negativity can be especially difficult habits to break within the first several years of marriage.
In the midst of a heated debate, sometimes just walking away is the best decision. The catch is that, at some point, you’re going to have to come back and face a difficult conversation. Stonewalling is when you do everything in your power to avoid these conversations, whether it’s ignoring your partner, distracting yourself with your phone, or outright refusing to talk about a particular subject. Walking away may be preferable to arguing for the time being, but it only causes your partner to bottle up the emotion and act out in other ways. For example, your partner might resent you for undermining his or her feelings and even seek consolation in extramarital affairs.
Having difficult conversations won’t necessarily make you feel better every time, but compared to stonewalling, you will always be better off in the long run if you just take a deep breath and talk it out.
Just because you and your spouse have engaged in some of the destructive behaviors we’ve covered – contempt, cynicism, defensiveness and stonewalling – does not mean the relationship’s destiny is set in stone. Per Dr. Gottman: “The most important discovery to come from our research is how we can predict divorce, and from that we know what couples need to do differently to strengthen their relationships. Changing those negative behaviors that predict divorce to more positive behaviors that predict success can significantly change the course of your relationship and make it better.”
Our lawyers have spent years handling complex family legal issues, and we’re skilled mediators and litigators. The DiPietro Family Law Group can protect your rights and children. Call the team to schedule a confidential consultation: (888) 530-4374.