John Gottman's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
From the man who's studied relationships for 40 plus years, and can predict a divorce with over 90% accuracy.
These behaviors lead to a breakdown in communication by telling the partner, "You're not important enough to pay attention to. You don't matter. Your opinion is invalid."
It's not that hateful on the surface, but felt nonetheless.
I mention this because anything outside of your awareness is outside of your control. However, once you become aware of these behaviors, you can control and change them.
It's being critical of another. Expressing disapproval based on perceived faults or mistakes. The mental picture is one of a vulture scavenging some road kill. When we criticize, we pick the other person apart with our words the same way the vulture eats. Let that sink in.
Instead of criticism (i.e., "you're so stupid") try encouraging your partner in the areas they do well. You might be surprised with the changes encouraging can bring. Saying things like, "thanks for being so sweet" will cause your partner to do more for that expressed praise.
Contempt is often unspoken. Don't get me wrong, I've been dog cussed with a slew of disdain before. I know full well contempt can be verbal, but it's the eye rolls, the scoffs and interruptions that say more. It's telling our partner they don't matter.
There's an antidote for contempt as well. It's called forgiveness. Maybe your partner does say dumb things, but let that go. Regardless of how convoluted it might sound, your partner may genuinely be trying to convey a valid point. Forgiving your partner will allow you to see past the dumb things they say, past the dumb things they do and better understand who they are.
The ability to take your partner's statements as a personal attack. It creates a tremendous lack of understanding. Rather than focus on the behavior that needs to change, we focus on ourselves and hear only that we're wrong.
Try being open to what your partner is actually saying. Their issue is usually more about the action and less about the person. Listen to understand. The single most important characteristic in a relationship lasting is the ability to take the partner's advice and let it influence you. When we're listened to, we feel respected.
Ever get the cold shoulder? The silent treatment? That's stonewalling. I've done this before too…completely shut down and stop talking to someone altogether. It's a little on the hateful side. I don't like what you said or did so I'm going to act like you don't exist.
It's a fast way to cause your partner to walk. Instead of ignoring your partner like a six year old, try backing up instead. "I need a minute or three to process that."
Stay present. It's one of the most disconcerting feelings you can have during an argument, but stay present. You may feel like you need to run away from the moment, but staying and engaging will help you settle the argument and maintain the relationship. You may even begin to notice that desire to leave or shut down diminish and be replaced with a desire to understand, or be understood.
Communication is critical for a relationship. It should be conveyed with compassion. I go back Nancy Dreyfus's book Talk to Me Like I'm Someone You Love. Making this a rule for communication will quash arguments before they start. It's near impossible to argue or even feel ill towards some one when using a loving tone with them.
Try it. Before you speak to your partner, think "I am madly in love with this person" and see how it filters the words you choose.
You'll also begin to see the response in your partner.
Jon Newton is TheRapportCoach. He teaches people how to use the neuroscience behind relationships to create extraordinary experiences between humans. From personal to business relationships, Jon helps humans navigate humanity.