Please read this, honey

Friday, April 4, 2008

With a divorce rate nearing 60-percent in this country, coping with the daily pressures of work, family and marriage can be alleviated by healthy, constructive communication between spouses.

Along with all the experts' recommendations of what to do to deal with each other and any stress that befalls us, such as setting goals, negotiating, being flexible, planning time together and laughing, there also is a list of what NOT to do.

To further reduce stress and strengthen your marriage, couples must try to avoid the following styles of communicating:

*Constant interrupting. By interrupting a person or answering before that person is done talking, you are showing that person that you are not interested enough to spend the time they need to speak to you.

*Always and never. Very few things in life are really that inflexible. These words cause people to become tense, angry and defensive.

*Use guilt. When spouses remind each other of their shortcomings or of previous mistakes, they continue a cycle of hurt and hard feelings.

*Use ultimatums. Demanding a certain action or behavior from a spouse doesn't move a couple together, instead it creates a barrier. Ultimatums can foster feelings of hurt, resentment, and encourage stress.

*Ask "Why?" Asking "Why did you or why didn't you?" puts people on the defensive. When people hear these words they often stop listening because they assume that the other people question their judgment.

*Practice clairvoyance. Telling a person how they feel is sometimes easier than listening carefully to them. Unfortunately, most of us are not psychic, and this can create resentment between both parties.

*Bring up the past. The past can be filled with many great memories, but if a person only talks of past problems and mistakes, the good times are forgotten. Focusing on past mistakes makes the process of making new decisions difficult and stressful.

By avoiding these problematic communication styles, spouses will find it easier to work together to find effective ways to deal with stress and other problems in their personal and professional lives.

And, just perhaps, it might lead to a healthier, happier marriage, with fewer bad examples for our children to witness and, horror of horrors, later adopt into their lives.