Good communication is critical in a marriage, but everyone is entitled to a bad day every now and then. Everyone misspeaks from time to time. And, hopefully, everyone apologizes when they’re in the wrong. But there are some behaviors that, when they occur repeatedly, can lead to a marriage full of communication holes and unhappiness, most notably stonewalling and contempt. Divorce isn’t far behind.
Breaking Down Stonewalling
When someone is stonewalling, they do just that – act like a stone wall. Unmoving, not listening, static. The person on the other end of the stonewalling might feel like their partner doesn’t care what they’re saying. All they notice is the one they love looking away, staying silent, cross their arms, or even turning away.
What would be helpful is for both parties to understand why the stonewalling is happening, because sometimes the person doing the stonewalling doesn’t even understand their response to a conversation:
- They feel overwhelmed and their body detects conflict, which is a threat.
- Stress hormones are released and the heart races.
- The brain no longer relates to what’s going on around it.
- Survival instincts kick in – flight, fight, or freeze.
All those normal instincts you might have to face a charged situation with humor, affection, or joint problem-solving go out the window and productive conversations are not possible. When this kind of circumstances occurs repeatedly it can shut out your partner… and shut down their love.
Kicking Out Contempt
Contempt is one of the most dangerous emotions in a relationship. This behavior is incredibly mean and emotionally disastrous and is one of the most likely indicators of divorce. People on the receiving end of contempt often have physical health problems as a result.
- Contempt feels like hypercharged criticism.
- The person being contemptuous gives off an aura of superiority.
- Shame and sarcasm are used to put someone else down.
- Their face may show an expression of disgust.
Your partner may have developed this habit of contempt through their own life experiences – it’s typically a result of watching caregivers behavior with contempt in their conflicts. Long-standing resentments or betrayals in the marriage can also lead to contempt.
Divorce After Poor Communication
Through therapy, open communication, and mediation, many couples can overcome communication problems and bring their marriage back to a happy place. Some marriages, though, are finished, and conversations where stonewalling, contempt, and other untoward behaviors reign just chip further away at an already fractured union.
If you are ready to talk about divorce, contact the Michigan divorce lawyers at Femminineo Attorneys to schedule a complimentary consultation.