Research has come a long way since the 1960’s when the book The Mirages of Marriage by Don Jackson and William Lederer expressed that distressed marriages lacked a contract based on rewards and positive feelings. It was suggested that partners negotiate a contract based out of self-interest to arrive at the best deal. Therapy approaches also recommended couples to designate a day of thoughtful exchanges.
Couples therapists now recommend couples work together with mutual trust and with shared meaning and purpose. Psychologists suggest partners act nice to each other not out of self-interest but out of mutual interest. Furthermore, professionals advise spouses to express emotions in a committed safe haven of trust, curiosity, and validation.
The ingredients for not only loving but being in love with your partner resides with good conflict-resolution skills and daily emotional connections; where calmly talking, listening, cuddling and saying, “I love you” with sincerity persists. Cuddling is important because it secretes oxytocin, the chemical that creates bonding and a great sex life.
The components to creating a healthy, happy relationship may sound overwhelming. It’s really quite simple. It starts with some basic communication rules. The guidelines include staying away from the four taboos of communication.
4. Angry outburst
I discussed the menaces of criticism and how it leads to a hostile environment causing distance, distrust, and defensiveness. The second communication pitfall to avoid is making a demand.
What is a demand?
A demand is a forceful request based on self-interest. The act of a demand is being domineering, controlling, and forceful. Similar to criticism, demanding something of your spouse is not constructive and does not have the mutual interest of the relationship in mind.
Demanding actions of your significant other commonly results in a passive-aggressive partner. Passive-aggressive behavior is a defense mechanism to punish you for your demands. Relationships that resort to demanding and retorting passive-aggressive behavior turn into a vicious cycle of retaliation, intense anger, and distance.
The solution is to pause before speaking when a demand enters your mind. You may ask for a time-out and express that you can reconvene in an hour or whatever particular timeframe you need to speak calmly and express what triggered the demand. Give yourself plenty of nurturing time to think and assess what soft spot was hit that brought forth this demand.
When you are ready, ask respectfully to your partner when is a good time to talk. When a time is set, make sure the setting is comfortable with no distractions. Share your perception and feelings of the event and what feelings about yourself and the relationship come forward. The more you express your inner world in a committed safe haven of curiosity, understanding, and empathy, the closer you become.
If your communication is falling into traps of demands and passive-aggressiveness, call me at (424) 258-5416 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s begin a course of action so that you may build trust and understanding again.