Warning signals in a relationship and how to work on your relationship

Warning signals in a marriage and how to work on the relationship

When you meet someone you get interested in and start a relationship with that person, you often make an effort to please your partner in the beginning. If you continue seeing your partner, you often move in together after a while and often you choose to have children. What often happens is that you are tired from doing all the different things you have to do on a daily basis (take care of your child, cook food, do the cleaning and laundry etc.) So in other words what happens is that the time spent with your partner consists of talking about tiring and boring things and if you don´t have time or if you don´t in some way make time to do some fun things with your partner (as you did in the beginning when you made an effort to please your partner), there is a risk that you fall into a vicious circle where the iriitation between you and your partner grows. I think that when you create good moments and good memories with your partner, you get a bigger patience with the things that irritate you in your partner.

John Gottman has written a great book about relationships (the seven principles for making marriages work), where he identifies warning signals that a relationship is going in a bad direction and then he writes about what you can do to change that direction.

Here are the warning signals he has identified:

1. Your partner or you start the conversation by attacking in a critisizing way.

2. The conversation is dominated by criticism, sarcasm, defense behavior and ignoration.

Gottman says that the worst of these four is the sarcasm. Often, when you get critisized and sarcasm, you start to defend yourself which is like accusing your partner back and there you are in a vicious circle that often leads to the fact that one of you will start ignoring the other by silence and after that you get more and more distanced from each other.

3. The partner who chooses to ignore is actually overwhelmed by his/her partner´s anger. Often the silent partner wants to talk, but without the emotional storms.

4. The body reacts in a stressful relationship. The pulse can go to 100 beats a minute (it´s normally 76 for a man in his thirties and 82 for a woman), your blood pressure goes up, the body pumps out adrenalin and gets ready for a flight or fight response.

Biologically, men get more emotionally overwhelmed by marital conflicts which is why it´s often the man who tries to avoid difficult subjects.

5. Gottman has found that some couples who have all the dysfunctional strategies, mentioned above, can survive their difficulties if they have a good way of making peace after a conflict.

6. Another  thing that Gottman has found  contributes to the vicious circle is that when you are in a bad relationship, you tend to remember your past moments together as negative, or you don´t remember them at all.

7. If you don´t break the bad path you are on, the marriage either ends or you start living parallell lives while living under the same roof.

The good news is that Gottman also gives advice about how to stop the negative loop and if you and your partner are motivated, start to work on your relationship.

Cognitive Behavior Psychologist Monica Emanell

www.kbtemanell.se

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