One of the most harmful behaviors in an intimate relationship is defensiveness.
Defensive behavior generates a negative reciprocal rhythm between partners. When your partner becomes defensive, you are likely to defend your actions as well. Both sides put up lines of defense, quick to fortify their positions with targeted criticism of the other to bolster their stances. Communication spirals downward and the repair is harder to achieve.
Defensiveness leads to tension, frustration, anger, rudeness, chronic arguments. It blocks the chances for you to grow together, can develop a sense of loneliness, and can destroy the quality of the relationship.
Research by The Gottman Institute points to defensive behavior as one of the leading causes of divorce. Many weekend couples retreats teach couples remedies to defensive behavior.
How can you avoid this toxic communication pattern?
The following tips can help you to bring peace to your relationship.
- Let Your Spouse Speak
Give your spouse enough time to put his or her words together. Do not interrupt your partner listen to the words carefully. Arguing back will only make your partner more combative and adds fuel to the fire.
Express your feelings and needs to your partner after you have both cooled down.
- Do Not React To Reactions
Make the conversation healthy and productive by not reacting to defensiveness behavior. This prevents communication from going downhill and will help resolve the real issue. Do not use judgmental and harsh words while talking to your partner.
A defensive person is usually in a hypersensitive state and often overreacts to meaningless things.
- Ask Your Partner To Reframe The Words
If you feel that your partner’s words are triggering your anger at any point in the communication, say: “I am not getting your point. Can you please say it differently?”
Be genuine and polite. Show grace.
- Take A Pause
Taking a break when you are both emotionally flooded is the best way to resolve conflict. If you are unable to focus on your partner’s word for any reason, it is better that you ask your partner to resume the conversation after a few minutes or hours.
During the timeout, focus on the positive aspects of your relationships and try to do something constructive – something that takes your mind off of the argument.
Once you fill yourself with positivity, you are emotionally ready to listen and understand your partner.
- Don’t Take Your Partner’s Words Personally
Understand that negative things said in the heat of the moment are not necessarily the true feelings of your partners. When a person is emotionally flooded, the thinking side of the brain has been hijacked by the internal threat-detection system. As a consequence, the person loses the capacity for rational thought.
- Seek Couple Therapy or Couples Workshop
To avoid defensive behavior, both partners need to understand its toxicity and learn the remedies. A skilled therapist can guide you both through exercises to help you gain the skills for meaningful, productive communication.
The Bottom Line:
Learn how to navigate difficult conversations for a healthier, happier relationship.
Author Bio: Sunny Skousen is an experienced writer who has over 20 years of experience in ghostwriting, blogging, journalism, speech writing, and content marketing. She specializes in writing about Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Faith-Based Counseling, Anxiety Disorders, Mood Disorders, Grief/Loss and Trauma, Supervision and Consultation, and more!
Originally Published At: https://www.newportpaperhouse.com/2021/03/5-ways-to-deal-with-partners-defensive.html