Communication Problems: Avoid These Verbal Responses.
UPDATE: Colleen is featured in the article: 5 Things You Should Never Say to Your Spouse, According to Marriage Counselors, written by Abby Reinhard, f0r Yahoo Best Life.
If you’re married, there’s a good chance you’ve had an argument or disagreement with your partner at some point. But if you’re lucky enough to have a healthy relationship, you can probably agree on most things. However, sometimes disagreements arise that are so deep and personal that they can’t be resolved. In these cases, you may want to seek professional counseling. The following are some examples of things NOT TO SAY if you want to mend your relationship with your spouse.
Tell your spouse how to behave.
One of the most damaging acts you can do in your marriage is to tell your spouse how he/she ought to behave. You may think that you’re being helpful, but what you’re really doing is telling them how they should act and not accepting them for who they actually are. This is a form of manipulation because it is controlling their behavior by making them feel bad about themselves. It also makes them feel like they have no say in the matter. They will often comply with your demands out of fear or guilt.
- If you find yourself doing this, stop immediately! You think it’s harmless advice, but if you give your spouse a list of “rules of behavior” for him/her to follow, you will only create resentment. The question then needs to be asked, what do you do when behavior needs to change? Start your conversations by asking questions try to gain an understanding,and seek clarification. This can help you avoid making assumptions and misunderstandings that could lead to problems in your relationship.
Threaten your spouse with divorce.
Using the “D” word, divorce, is definitely a relationship killer. If you want to save your marriage, don’t threaten divorce. Immediately this word conjugates feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness into one powerful emotion. You’ve painted a picture of your spouse as an enemy and now you’re trying to get rid of them. When you say divorce you’re saying that you’re done trying to work on your marriage. You’ve given up hope. And without hope, you’ve communicated your relationship is not worth working on.
- Remember you married your spouse for better or worse. Your spouse has made a commitment to you and you need to respect that. Don’t use threats to manipulate your spouse to get what you want. Instead, try using empathy and understanding. You’re better off talking about the issues that need to be addressed before you get to the point where you decide to file for divorce. Seek a professional marriage counselor who can help mediate the situation and give you some ideas on how to move forward.
Make promises you’re not going to keep.
When promises are broken you are saying to your spouse “I love you, but I’m not going to be there for you when you need me.” The most important thing in a relationship is trust and communication. If the words you say are unreliable for your spouse then it will be hard to have faith that he/she can count on you.
- We all make mistakes from time to time. We over-commit, we lose track of time, we forget dates and appointments, and sometimes we simply get lost in what we’re doing. However, there is a difference between being human versus making the same mistake over and over. Broken promises are not only disrespectful but damaging to your relationship. It’s a slap in the face of your spouse and shows your lack of integrity and trustworthiness.
Avoid statements like:
- “Why did I ever marry you?” Saying this in disgust/anger to your spouse is very hurtful and insulting. It implies that your spouse has done something wrong, or that he/she is not good enough for you. Find a different way to express yourself without placing the blame solely on your spouse.
- “You always do this.” This type of statement is hurtful because it implies that your spouse is incompetent. You’re saying that you know better than your spouse does and if he/she doesn’t agree with you, then he/she must be stupid or weak-willed. Instead, try to find out why your spouse disagrees with you. Is it because he/she wants to be treated differently? Or is it because he/she feels that his/her opinion matters just as much as yours?
- “You’ll never change!” It’s an insult to your wife. It suggests she’s not capable of changing her behavior. In addition, it implies there’s no hope. Try to look to see if there’s a way to work together to find solutions. “If you loved me you would…” These statements suggest that your spouse doesn’t deserve any more from you than you’ve already been giving him/her. Look to show your partner, unconditional love, not just when things are going well.
- “It’s my way or the highway” or “If you leave me, I’ll…” A threat isn’t an effective way to communicate because threats don’t solve any problem. Instead, they create new conflicts. The best way to get your point across is by being direct and honest, avoiding emotional outbursts, and trying to resolve issues together as soon as possible.
- Disrespectful Family Member: What Can You Do? by Colleen Wenner, Founder & Director of New Heights Counseling.
- How To Communicate With Your Spouse More Effectively – 7 Keys, by Paul Friedman, The Marriage Foundation.
- Learn How To Communicate With Your Spouse, by Susan Heitler, Power of Two.
Get Support From A Mental Health Professional
The staff at New Heights Counseling wants you to know, that help is available. Call us at (850) 757-1552 to set up an individual or couples session with one of our professional counselors who can help with relationship issues utilizing appropriate therapeutic techniques. Check out our staff bios on our website at meet our team. Our therapists will walk with you through the process of resolving problems and creating positive changes in your life and marriage.
Other Mental Health Services Offered At New Heights Counseling
The staff at New Heights Counseling provides counseling for a wide variety of concerns such as couples and family problems, parenting skills, anger management, anxiety, depression, stress, grief, loss, addiction, abuse, trauma, PTSD, self-esteem, confidence, body image, eating disorders, and many more. Our goal is to provide helpful solutions for your needs and work together with you to improve your lifestyle by giving you the knowledge necessary to succeed and live a healthy, productive life.
Our services are for children, adolescents, and adults and we offer in-person sessions at our Fort Walton Beach, FL location and online therapy for the state of Florida. We are located on the 2nd floor of WorkSpace Suites at 1992 Lewis Turner Blvd, Suite 1057, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547. Get directions here on Google Maps or visit our office location page. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 4 PM. Evenings/Weekends by appointments. Call (850)757-1552.
About the Author:
Colleen Wenner is the founder and clinical director of New Heights Counseling Center, where she provides counseling services for individuals struggling with mental health issues. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Master Certified Addiction Professional. Colleen is a certified supervisor in Florida as well as an EMDR trauma-certified practitioner and consultant in training. She is also licensed by the state of Virginia to provide professional counseling. Colleen is committed to providing excellent client care and services the Fort Walton Beach, Crestview, Niceville, Destin, and surrounding communities.
Colleen has always advocated for mental health wellness and she has dedicated her entire life to promoting awareness among the public. She has been featured on a variety of podcasts such as Practice of the Practice (The #1 Podcast for counselors in private practice), Shrink Think Podcast, and The Salty Christan Podcast to name a few. Colleen uses compassionate and authentic communication to help clients understand themselves better and feel more confident about their ability to improve their lives.