For the most part, if you do not cross swords with your spouse every day, you probably think you have a decent marriage. The problem with this notion is that it leads to the development of toxic habits in slow progression.
Sun Tzu once said,
All is fair in love and war.
Times have changed, but people still use this as an excuse to compare the two dynamics. War is a tactical game, with both sides looking to undercut the other by any means necessary. Love, however, can’t be played as if it is a game. It’s a partnership, not a relationship between two opposing sides.
In terms of communication, relationships witness many toxic communication habits everywhere. The way that we interact with our partners is crucial to the success of our marriages, yet some couples to get tactical and take Tzu’s statement to heart.
This is a classic no-no, but one of the toxic communication habits in relationships in many relationships. It is one of the patterns that could destroy marriage. Whether it’s chores, parental responsibilities, or intimacy, there are often numbers being tallied in the back of our brains. Whether you state them clearly or keep the tallies to yourself, the communication between you and your partner will be more resentful.
If you are getting annoyed with your partner because you cooked dinner five times last week, and they only managed it twice, then there’s a larger issue at hand. Who cares who cooks dinner? Rather than resenting them for not doing their part, try to figure out a solution that avoids a conscious or subconscious score to be kept. Maybe try cooking together?
More importantly, you should treat your relationship as a partnership, not a game of “What have you done for me lately?” Avoid poor or negative communication in relationships at all costs.
There will be times when you pull more weight and other times when your partner carries the load for your marriage. Rather than keeping track and bragging about your numbers, follow better communication styles, and know that both of your efforts will contribute equally to your relationship’s success.
Trying to drop subtle hints to get what you want from your partner is a quick way to leave you both upset and annoyed. This will agitate you because your hints aren’t accomplishing what you want them to. Also, this will aggravate your partner will be because they have no idea why you’re upset with them . As a result, all of this will lead to toxic communication habits from both ends.
A quick way to fix your passive-aggressive problems is by communicating in relationships with clear and constructive requests rather than following passive-aggressive communication patterns.
Think the garbage should be taken out?
Passive-aggressive no-no: “Does it smell in the kitchen? I feel like it kind of smells out there? Maybe the garbage is too full.”
Clear request: “Dear, I think it smells in the kitchen. Would you mind taking the garbage out? I think that maybe the culprit. I’d really appreciate it.”
Trying to break the dry spell in your sex life?
Passive-aggressive no-no: “Maybe if we had sex once in a while, I’d be less tense and want to do fun things with you.”
Clear request: “I don’t think that we have sex enough. Sex makes me feel closer to you, and without that intimacy, I feel a disconnect.”
Being passive-aggressive is one of the toxic communication styles that literally presents a lose-lose situation. You may get it to work short term, but the long term effects are dire. Your spouse won’t take too kindly to the constant indirect criticisms over the long haul. It’s much better to be upfront and honest if there’s something you’re having an issue with.
3. The curse of “I’m fine”
Maybe you don’t want to burden your partner with the bad day you’re having. Perhaps you want them to push harder to find out what’s really going on. Maybe you’re just trying to be strong and think it out.
Whatever your intentions, you’re giving into toxic relationship habits that can’t be won. How many people that you know have uttered the words “I’m fine” in your presence and made it believable?
I can’t think of any.
The problem with this toxic communication habit is two-fold:
You’re not letting your partner in so that they can help you with whatever you’re going through.
If you’re hoping that they’ll keep fighting to help, and then they don’t, you’ll be more upset. But you only have yourself to blame.
If something is bothering you, then say so rather than being a poor communicator. Don’t make it a mystery for your partner to solve with limited resources.
If you’ve been married for a long time, you may have developed the notion that your partner should know that you’re upset. Maybe they’re having an off day themselves and are too consumed by their emotions. Maybe they are unable to understand.
The only way that you can get the love and support that you probably want from your partner is by being forthcoming about how you feel. It makes the situation easier to understand and to resolve.
According to Alan Robarge, an Attachment Trauma Therapist, it is important to offer the truth and communicate openly to pick up the dynamics of disrespect in relationships:
No matter what types of toxic communication habits and patterns you are getting into, avoid them to improve the relationship quality. Communication needs to be a place of openness and honesty. Being a passive-aggressive partner can hurt your marriage. It can ultimately take your relationship down a steep slope of resentment. Don’t let that happen to you and your spouse.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.