4 Reasons Couples Experience Destructive Communication and How to Change It
Are you in a pattern of destructive communication with your husband?
Do you feel hurt by your husband’s words? Do you communicate with a lack of care or concern? Do you often misunderstand one another or assume something that causes even more breakdown in communication?
If so, you’re not alone.
It took me a number of years of being married to realize that my communication toward my husband was destructive and was creating a pattern and cycle of destructive communication.
I’ve learned what often causes destructive communication and how to create constructive communication.
1. Ignorance. I had learned unhealthy communication styles from my childhood and from my personality that I had not realized were manipulative, negative, and sharp. Because this communication had served me well prior to marriage and even at the start of our marriage, I did not recognize the impact my communication was having on our marriage and therefore wasn’t addressing it. My husband was fearful of being honest with me because he knew he would pay for his honesty with my reaction (seriously hug him if you see him – babe, I’m so sorry).
If you’ve grown up in dysfunction, generational sin, undiagnosed mental illnesses or addictions, or if you have a spicy personality (you know who you are) – you’re in danger of destructive communication toward your spouse.
Continue reading to turn your ignorance into knowledge.
2. Unresolved wounds. Familial hurts, abandonment, abuse, and common human disappointment can leave us with open wounds. These wounds, if hidden or buried, are typically directed toward your spouse. Unresolved pain can look like negative self-talk, jealousy, fear, defensiveness, passivity, manipulation, blaming, or doubt. Unresolved past pain causes your reality to be distorted. We can’t love people well and we can’t receive love well when we have unresolved wounds.
To heal unresolved wounds, be honest about its existence. Admit the pain and bring it into the light. Take responsibility for what your pain has done to yourself and to your marriage. Then ask for forgiveness, and forgive any person(s) where forgiveness is needed. Forgiveness is the most loving thing you can do. For the sake of your marriage, don’t let your past hold you and your family hostage any second longer by living in bondage. Christ died so that you can live in freedom from hurt caused to you or by you. Make amends today.
Sometimes it’s not this simple, and counseling is ideal. If that is you or your spouse, contact a local Christian Counselor today.
3. Defensiveness. Healthy couples listen and consider what the other thinks and feels. Unhealthy couples find themselves in a cycle of unresolved issues because nothing gets resolved. Defensiveness is a barrier to intimacy and is actually a predictor of divorce. A spouse might interrupt, misinterpret information, skew or exaggerate information, deflect information or blame the other spouse. Most couples recognize seasons of defensiveness and commonly relate these seasons to times when they are lacking intimacy and/or have low self-esteem.
To stop the cycle of defensiveness, one spouse must commit to refraining from defensiveness even if the other spouse stays defensive. All it takes is one spouse refusing to be defensive by taking in a complaint, suggestion, or idea that their spouse has – accepting the information lovingly, and thanking them for it. This begins a new pattern and creates a new cycle of communication to start.
Ask God to reveal any areas of insecurity, and then ask God to soften your heart and guard your lips. Commit to speaking life to your spouse, and earn the right to bring something other than life to your spouse. Ask yourself, have I spoken enough praise to bring this to my spouse?
4. Lack of biblical community. We want to phone the friend that will side with us and confirm how we feel. So much that psychologists study it and have named it as the confirmation bias. It’s dangerous to your marriage and family. Biblical community looks different than possibly what your friends look like now – because biblical community groups hold each other accountable and won’t tell you what you want to hear. Instead, they will direct you toward Christ, possible repentance, and/or restoration.
If you aren’t already actively attending a local church – get your buns to one! Don’t let your spouse stop you from it. If you are already actively attending a local church but aren’t involved in a small group, call your church today and tell them you’d like to join one!
Friends, our marriages and families are our opportunities to let Jesus shine by how we love. I pray that you would desire to glorify God more than satisfying your flesh and tearing apart your spouse. There is too much at stake.
Wife Step: Today, go to your husband and apologize for your own communication by recognizing how your communication has been hurtful or unhealthy.
Amanda laughs a lot – mostly at herself. One day Jesus saved her life, her marriage, and her family, and has kept on doing it ever since. She is on a mission to share how her education in counseling and God’s word changed everything. Her goal is to transform marriages through the hearts of wives by inspiring wives to live their lives convinced of God’s love and love others from this awesome overflow. She is The Wife Coach, Founder of A Wife Like Me, a Speaker, and Author. Amanda is a professor of psychology at North Dakota State College of Science and works as the Director of Assimilations at The Naz church in Fergus Falls, MN, where her and her husband lead the Marriage Mentor Team. Her favorite ministry is inside her home where she is the wife to a farmer and mom to three. She looks forward to hearing from you and hopes you will join with her on the journey of learning to love God’s people well.