This guest article from Psych Central was written by Erika Krull.
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Good communication is the foundation of a strong marriage. Many marriages could be saved if spouses improved the ways they communicate with each other.
It’s often the simplest bad habits that get couples into trouble. Once a marriage gets on a rough track, negativity grows. Problems escalate as both spouses repeat their mistakes again and again. Take a look at the following communication mistakes and learn how they can be resolved.
1. Yelling at your spouse.
When you feel angry, you probably start raising your voice. Anger creates tension. As tension builds, you look for a way to release or express it. Yelling at your spouse becomes a quick and easy option, although it often causes more trouble than relief.
It may feel good to unleash your tension on your spouse when they upset you, but the sense of satisfaction is often short-lived. Whatever you say in your angry state is likely to add fuel to the fire.
Yelling unleashes lots of strong, negative emotion. No matter what you are trying to communicate at that point, the emotion is going to take center stage. That’s what captures the listener’s attention most. Unfortunately, your spoken message will be diminished or even misunderstood, because you set up your partner to be defensive and frustrated rather than responsive and understanding.
It’s not that you can’t express some strong emotion when you speak – you’re not a robot, after all. But yelling goes well beyond the line. It sets the stage for an exchange of heated emotions rather than clearly communicated words. Even if your emotion is the message you need to share, a purely emotional exchange can easily transform into an exhausting, destructive habit. At some point, emotions need to be communicated in a way that allows you to move past them, not fuel them.
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When you can keep your emotion in check, your message can really shine through. This doesn’t mean you should try to shove your emotions out of the way. They may be a very important part of your situation. But remember – the whole point of communicating is to be clearly understood. To do that, your channel of communication must go two ways. Excessive emotion interferes with that. Take a little time alone to help you ride the wave of feelings and let them settle on their own.
Another option is to take a quick exercise break before you continue the conversation. Exercise is a terrific stress reducer and it can easily distract you from your intense feelings. It’s pretty tough to focus on your troubles when you are nearly out of breath. You may also find it helpful to write out the things you want to say so you take care to deliver your message more clearly.
It’s OK to take your time talking about something that makes you really emotional. You’ll get through the problem more easily if you can keep your spouse on your side instead of pushing them away.