The fact that marriages are hard and take much effort to maintain has been put across so many times it almost sounds like cliché. However, marriages tend to have a lovelier side to them. For existing marriages, however, there are always moments when one or both partners contribute to developing a troubled union. There are several signs that point to varied levels of trouble in marriage. Always watch out for the elements of criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. If you are familiar with these you have probably already noticed that they are based on one very important pillar of marriage, communication.
Criticism basically involves attacking your partner’s personality other than something they did or a certain behavior. The ideal situation in marriage involves all things being perfect without any complaints or mistakes from either partner. However, this situation is virtually inexistent and couples will find themselves amidst fights every now and then. However, there is a huge difference between complaining (which is healthy) and criticizing. Complaining entails pointing out what you don’t agree with and letting out disagreements and anger before they pile up and ruin the relationship in the long run. Criticizing on the other hand involves a partner attacking the other’s character. Often, this results from unresolved complaints. Criticisms can be avoided by avoiding inventories of anger and unresolved issues since these will almost certainly come up when they shouldn’t have.
This is the second of the four horsemen of failed marriages. Contempt is basically criticism on a higher level. While criticism is just complaints communicated in the wrong manner, contempt aims to intentionally insult and abuse your partner. Again, contempt mostly arises from poor communication in marriage and in instances of this, one or both partners fail to remember even a single positive aspect of the other person. The obvious forms of contempt include mockery, insults, and name-hurling, eye-rolling and sneering. There are however not the only elements of contempt and some could be couple-specific.
This becomes most people’s natural reaction to contempt. When one or both partners act contemptuously, the other partner responds or rather reacts defensively. In this case, none of the partners is willing to take personal responsibility for the turn of things in marriage. The most common signs of defensiveness include denial of responsibility, cross-complaining, negative mindsets, constantly repeating your position and making excuses. Couples have slightly varied ways of overcoming defensiveness. However, the easiest is to start treating your partner’s words and statements not as attacks but rather as information.
This occurs when one partner pulls out of the communication channel in marriage. The other partner is left feeling like they are talking to a stone wall. Doing this indicates utter disapproval of what the other person is saying and makes them feel distanced from you. This is especially common with men and often ends up with the woman being hurt. It takes quite some effort to salvage a marriage that has gone down this road. However, the marriage is indeed still reparable.