Typically during disagreements tempers flare, words are exchanged and couples shut down. The shutdown comes as a result of not knowing exactly how to express certain emotions in order to get our desired outcome. We know what we need, but get frustrated at the idea of how to specifically ask for it.
Communication should combine speaking and listening with observation. In addition to recognizing our own behaviours, we must also be more observant of our partner’s. Occasionally they leave us a little confused as to why they react the way they do. We all must keep in mind our spouse’s feelings are valid, even when they don’t make any sense to us. Sometimes we have to get out of our own thinking and consider our mate’s point of view. People handle frustrations differently; where one might yell, another might completely shut down. It might seem a bit childish to some, but here are the real reasons our spouse shuts down:
When it’s a repeated behavior. No one wants to have the same discussion over and over again. Especially when you’re dealing with another adult. This expectation isn’t unreasonable. Behaviors we know upset our partners should no longer be repeated, it’s that simple.
When you haven’t apologized. We all make mistakes. The problem arises when we can’t or won’t take ownership of those mistakes. An apology, in some cases, confirms we recognize the error and feel convicted.
When you don’t really understand why he/she is so upset. Although an apology is nice as stated above, it means nothing if we aren’t clear on why we’re apologizing. If we really don’t understand the seriousness of the situation it could easily happen again. It’s important to get an understanding of why our action bothered our spouse. Asking questions and listening attentively could help uncover deeper truths about our partner.
When they don’t feel listened to. In addition to feeling loved, everyone wants to be heard. It’s a sign of respect and confirms that our feelings are valid. It feels good to know that we matter to the person we love. Listening reminds our partners that they are a priority to us.
When the fight just isn’t worth it. Not everything has to be a battle. Couples should be able to have disagreements, create a solution together and move on. We shouldn’t have to stay in a dark place when the solution is evident.
Relationships are less stressful when we spend time getting familiar with our partners and act accordingly. We should know them better than anyone and be more accepting of who they are. Again, there’ll be things we don’t understand. However, our primary goal should be staying connected and limiting the amount of stress they experience in the relationship.