Psychologists take on Marriage and Relationships!Mar 30, 2019
Have you ever wondered why conversations between married couples fade as their years of marriage grow? Why do they have really less to talk in spite of being married for a longer time? Has their level of understanding gone way up high, that they no longer need words?
Psychologists say that the reason for this silence is self-defense. Wives feel defensive when they think they are unloved and unheard by their husbands while the husbands feel defensive when they think they are not being respected but criticized and controlled. Research indicates the recipe for a long-lasting happy married life is to accept influence. In the New Testament, Paul says, ‘Husbands love your wives and Wives respect your husbands.’ He advises men and women to do the opposite of their natural tendency, to satisfy the relational requirement of their partner.
The fact is, couples are more likely to engage in conversation if both genders change their natural tendencies, welcoming mutual influence. The natural language for men is respect and for women is love. It’s how they communicate with their own gender. It appears to be foreign when they talk to their spouse and hence the gap. Marriage is a journey into this wonderland trying to accommodate and understand what the other gender is trying to communicate.
According to the research by Dr. John Gottman - an American psychological researcher and clinician – the four spoilers of a healthy relationship are Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt and Stonewalling. He refers to them as ‘the four horsemen of the apocalypse’.
Criticism: Judging someone and finding fault about their behaviour
Defensiveness: Behaviour to shield oneself to avoid criticism
Contempt: Being disrespectful, not considering others’ opinions
Stonewalling: Refusing to answer or communicate or cooperate in a relationship
We have discussed in length about the causes but how to alleviate or tackle the situation? A few tips:
Have a weekly generative talk with your spouse
At the end of a generative talk, one would have shared perspectives, questioned and discussed ideas about a problem and decided the next course of action. It’s a shared exploration and an art of listening together. To have an effective generative conversion,
- Avoid using direct and confronting speech
- Don’t preach your beliefs and values
- Stop judging and start listening
Boost your love
- Get away for the weekend
- Make plans for your future
- Small sweet surprises for your partner
Foster your fondness and admiration
- Not just saying “I am fond of you” but try to identify ‘why?’. Even if it’s an obvious reason, your partner will enjoy when they hear it from you. So, next time, say it aloud!
- Use positive adjectives to share praises
- Not just appreciating the work done but appreciating the person and the effort taken
Be supportive of each other
- Support each other’s dreams
- Share your happiness and sorrow
- Celebrate important days in your life
- Make it a point to spend time together everyday
Let your partner influence you
- Avoid power struggles
- Respect each other’s opinions
- Take equal responsibility and ownership in decision making
Solve your solvable problems
- Realize – no relationship is perfect
- Handle your problems with humour and understanding
- Make repair attempts – cool down heated arguments
- Soothe each other
- Compromise when needed
- Accept the differences between your personalities and lifestyles
- Talk about your goals, hopes and dreams
- Take it slowly. Give a break if needed. Rome was not built in a day.
Create shared meaning
- Build routines in your early years of marriage and follow them
- Make the relationship meaningful by creating positive memories
Any relationship does not sustain just by romance, beauty and attraction. It’s nurtured with patience, love, respect and blooms by understanding each other. Build the antidotes to shoo away the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Developing these skills not only helps you personally but also to win in your professional life. Remember to imagine and invent and fail and re imagine and reinvent countless times.