Many think that screaming is the way to destroy your marriage, but we can also do serious damage by whispering.
It's not just the words we use, but how we use them. In that sense, our mouths hold the greatest control in a marriage; we can build up or tear down great walls of trust and affection depending on what we say and how it's said. Controlling our emotions and our words may be the difference between divorce and a happy life together.
But, even when we think we are controlling our words, we don't always realize what we are saying…or how we are saying it.
This article will hopefully help you notice how few words it takes to hurt your partner, even if you don't even raise your voices.
No one is perfect, but you can still criticize in a respectful way. Does your tone make it sound like you are attacking your spouse's qualities or personality? A discussion about possible improvements is not the same as an attacking complaint. For example, saying, "When you did not call me, I was worried because you said you would call," is very different from saying, "Of course you didn't call, you never think of anyone but yourself." Your words and tone can make all the difference.
Destructive criticism is hurtful, but contempt is even worse. Contempt is best friends with sarcasm, and is extremely insulting. Neither are ways you should ever speak to your spouse. Contempt's only aim is to make your partner feel totally defeated, worthless, and despised. Words such as: "You're pathetic, you say you're tired when I have been with the children all day," or "Could you be more melodramatic? What kind of man are you?" are mocking and incredibly hurtful. You don't have to shout to deeply injure someone when speaking with contempt.
We all get defensive when we feel that our partner is attacking us. However, the most destructive defense is playing the blame game. This form of "defensiveness" is dangerous because it leads to criticism and contempt. A marriage is a partnership; share the blame.
While all other ways to destroy your marriage include words, this is the one action that is completely silent but equally as destructive. Blocking communication involves keeping quiet, ignoring your partner, or pretending to do something rather than talking things out. This behavior is intentional, and can deeply hurt your partner and your relationship. Words can be harmful, but so can silence.
It is not enough to think only about the words we say, because the way we say them also makes an enormous difference. What we say with our mouths is just as important as what is said with our bodies. Pay close attention to what you are saying to make sure your communication style is building (not destroying) your relationship.