Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.Popular saying
This saying couldn’t be further from the truth. So, get that out of your heads right now. Hurtful words when spoken by people we love, may cause relationship breakdowns.
Malicious statements stay embedded in our heads for what seem like forever. Those words never go away. They impact how we relate to others, and how we view ourselves.
Verbal Bullying Helps Noone
Harmful Words May Not Break Your Bones. But They Break Your Spirit, And Your Soul.
The psychological impact of a broken spirit as a result of damaging interactions, can never be repaired. It may take years to heal from destructive quarrels spoken in the relationships we hold in high esteem.
When couples come to counseling, this is an indication that there is still hope to mend their relationships.
I encourage couples in therapy to be mindful of the derogatory, and mean-spirited phrases that are readily, and easily dished out in the therapy room.
Destructive words used over and over again in couples’ dialogue, can become a natural part of the shattered communicative style.
Couples in this case, have a difficult time expressing themselves appropriately; arguments and repercussions rarely cease.
Avoidance Doesn’t Work Either
Simply trying to avoid conflicts or disagreements with a spouse, won’t help nor change the situation. Life happens. We are different people, with different upbringings, and different experiences.
Therefore, avoiding ineffective communication methods are a start in the right direction.
Let’s take a look at some of the negative ways couples articulate when they are upset, frustrated, and/or downright angry with each other.
The blame game is when it’s always the other person’s fault. In general, people have a difficult time owning their contribution to a problem. It’s easier to point away from oneself; in the direction of the other person.
Tit For Tat
Oftentimes repaying the insult, the aggression, and the spitefulness makes couples believe they have won the battle. Tit for tat only leave partners feeling alone and defeated.
It’s a nightmare when a spouse calls their partner names they despise. It’s almost as if they are using words as a weapon that caused real pain in the past; revisiting old wounds that were harmful for them.
Imagine the one person who should have a partner’s best interest no matter what, defames the character as if it means nothing to them. As if the one being belittled had committed the worst human act possible to mankind. This is damaging for couples, to say the least!
Sometimes when enraged by people who are involved in committed relationships, disappointment and disgust comes out in language not fit for the Pope. It seems hard at times to find other suitable words to describe the calamity faced, but to cuss it out.
Screaming And Yelling
The partner on the receiving end won’t remember the point which was being made. All that will be remembered was the screaming and yelling. Once the giver’s vocal cords attain a certain decibel level, the receiver normally tunes out. This is almost guaranteed to be pointless and of poor communication.
As my couples tell me, nothing is more disrespectful, and barbarous than being cut off. Nothing is worse than being stopped right in their tracks, in mid sentence, when they’re pouring their hearts out.
Even though no words are used to describe how fed up a spouse may feel, shutting down is just communication without words. Using the silent treatment is just as inconsiderate as screaming, yelling and name calling. Non-verbal communication can sometimes be worse.
The Culprit – Poor Communication
When we sum it all up, communication should get the prize. I’m not talking about good communication, but the lack thereof. The breakdown in communication can be caused by all of the following, including but not limited to:
- learned behaviors
- past rejection
- feelings of inadequacy
- being neglected
- insecurity about oneself
- reinforcing negative habits
- fear of loneliness
- fear of vulnerability
Why would we choose to defend ourselves in a negative way, as opposed to the right, respected and revered manner? To show our spouse that we love and care about him or her.
I believe, sometimes we really just don’t know how. We have never been taught, given the tools, nor the understanding of how this all works.
To emphasize the bolded point above, a client in marriage counseling last week, stated he didn’t realize that he hadn’t been communicating well all these years. He further added, “how can I learn if I didn’t even know I was hurting her so much?” He came to the conclusion that taking part in marriage counseling was key to solving his communication problems.
When we begin to see how it all makes sense, couples get along better with each other and start placing the pieces of the puzzle together. Defense mechanisms are broken down and authentic healing takes place.
Some of the techniques I teach my couples in therapy are how to learn effective listening skills, showing empathy, giving genuine validation, understanding interpretation, and problem solving.
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