There is one difference between a happily married couple and those who are experiencing pain in their marriage.
And it’s not that happy couples don’t fight or disagree with one another.
John Gottman spent almost 16 years closely studying married couples behaviors.
He learned to predict which couple will divorce and those who will still remain married.
Gottman predicted that 96% of the time they way couples talk to one another determine whether they will be married or divorced in 5 years. When one partner uses negative language, accuses the other, shows contempt, this is referred to as the harsh start-up.
Even healthy couples argue and have problems. But unlike other couples who are in pain they use a softened startup. It’s a discussion about an issue that will end on a positive note.
Most couples who are in an argument or conflict typically disengage from one another both physically and emotionally. If you notice couples who end up in divorce court and watch their body language very closely you will see they turn away from each other. There is no physical touch, smile or engagement at all.
If you look closer you find they usually try to avoid eye contact and in most cases look away or stare blankly when talking to their spouse.
This is physical disengagement.
When you disengage, chances are you setting yourself for a harsh encounter. If this is keeps repeating itself, it could be a struggle to get your marriage on track.
The good news is that you can stop this harsh start-up almost immediately.
When approaching or discussing serious problems with your spouse, first try to reconnect.
Stand in front of them and look them directly in the eye. Rub their shoulders or back or make some sort of physical contact.
This is a sign of engagement.
It sends a signal that you still care and engaged with your partner. You are not the enemy.
It’s also very difficult to engage with someone and be extremely hostile or negative towards them at the same time.
Most times we feel that our partner is hostile towards us and they need to change their tone or attitude first.
The challenge is that when there is conflict even if you have the best of intentions and really want to work things out, he may not see things that way.
Usually the female in the situation tries to resolve conflicts. Men for some reason prefer to keep silent or brush things under the carpet thinking it will work itself out.
If you are approach him first your goal is to move towards a soft start up. If you continue this way and keep aiming for this solution, your communication changes. His feelings towards you changes. You will both be discussing and trying to resolve your marriage problems rather than blaming each other.
What are the ways you can engage before you have a crucial conversation with your spouse?