In a recent study in The Journal of Family Psychology, researchers, Lavner, Bradbury and Karney found in surveying 251 couples every six months for the first four years of their marriage, that despite the wish for marital fulfillment those whose marriages deteriorated were dealing with unsafe dynamics like verbal aggression, repression of feelings and denial of needs. Left unattended, such dynamics compromised the bond despite commitment, personality strengths or stress level.
In a similar way, no matter how beautifully a couple might decorate a home; a leaking roof or cracking foundation can not go unattended without consequences.
A closer look at a three “ unsafe couple dynamics” may invite mutual consideration of your relationship and the possibility of some renovations.
“Living like this is like living in a minefield.”
- Verbal Aggression is toxic to relationships because it destroys communication, trust and intimacy. Usually taking the form of taunts, personal insults, accusations, threats of separation or divorce, it locks the partners in pain. Nothing changes. Nothing is learned about self or other.
- The person who is verbally assaulted may retaliate or withdraw. At the worst, studies of intimate partner violence find that verbal aggression is a predictor of physical aggression.
- In an atmosphere of verbal aggression, real connection is impossible. Often one or both partners go through cycles of guilt and fear. With time, emotional and physical health is compromised
Appropriate Assertion of Anger
The hallmark of a viable relationship is the ability to feel anger and express it in a way that communicates a problem, disappointment, conflict, or feeling without frightening, threatening or verbally assaulting one’s partner.
Renovations that make the healthy assertion of anger possible:
Stepping down by one or both in the face of verbal aggression is not giving up – it is protection for both. No one can fight alone. The mutual call for a “ Time Out” or the individual message, “ I can’t really respond if we are screaming,” …