Want to save your marriage? You should know that under stress, couples do three things that are relationship killers.
All three are self-protective reactions to pain or fear.
But self-protection to one partner is poison to the other.
Here is the list of three killers.
- Disengage, go silent, withdraw, retreat. This is an attempt to feel safe but it is emotional violence to your partner. They have no idea what you are thinking or feeling so they make up all kinds of scenarios in their heads. And you don’t do anything to disprove their hallucinations.
- Blame, shame, and guilt them. This, too, is a self-protective reaction to lessen your pain or fear. The hidden hope is that by overpowering your partner you will make them stop doing what they are doing and then you will get relief from the pain or fear you experience.
- Resentful compliance. You go along to get along. You will pay any price for peace. And you do. Your partner does, too. They don’t really know who you are, what you value, desire or care about. You just keep quiet to avoid trouble. Over time, even you don’t know what you want or what is important to you. You become a zombie – part of the living dead.
All three reactions are signs you are in your self-protective bubble. And when you go to your bubble there are painful consequences for your partner. Another sign you are in your self-protective bubble is that you deny or minimize the anguish you trigger in your partner.
Now, what is the one antidote to this poison?
If you tend to retreat, speak up. Many couples cite the moment they stopped expressing what was important to them as the point their marriage started to deteriorate.
If you tend to blame, shame or guilt, speak up without assaulting. Don’t rationalize that you have to verbally attack your partner in order to really express your feelings and tell the whole story.
If you have a pattern of resentfully complying, speak up. Stop and think about what you truly desire and then speak up. Give a voice to your desires.
That’s it. The single communication tip that will save your marriage: speak up.
Please apply this tip as if your relationship depends on it. Because it does.