Lack of communication in marriage: “You never pay attention. You always do what you want. You do not respect the budget we have agreed upon. I do not understand why you bought that TV for the room. We do not need it, that expense is not in the budget. You are useless. You are a fool and inconsiderate. I am tired of you always doing whatever you want and not consulting with me.”
“Oh, my love, forgive me. I will not do it again. You know that I love you and I live for you. Do not be angry with me. I will do whatever you tell me to do. In fact, if you want, I will go to the store tomorrow and return the TV, as long as you are okay and do not get mad at me. It makes me sad to see you like that.”
“You are always telling me that you are not going to do it again, and you end up doing it anyway. Could it be that you do not understand your behavior? How long do I have to put up with these packages of yours?”
Communication in marriage is key
Communication is key in all relationships, but especially in marriages. Many studies confirm that a marriage’s success is in communication. Efficient communication is not something innate in human beings, but something that is developed over the years. Several factors influence how you communicate. Besides, it is affected by the way you were raised, the emotional dynamics you experienced in your family, your attachment style, and the emotional experiences you have lived. These factors can determine whether you have positive communication or negative communication.
Virginia Satir, one of the pioneers of family therapy, emphasized the importance of communication in the family as a way to develop healthy relationships. Families that are not healthy and do not nurture themselves are families in which communication is indirect, vague, dishonest, incomplete, and unclear. This negative communication leads to low self-esteem, which results in maladaptive responses, especially when the couple is experiencing high levels of stress. For Satir, a healthy marriage is built on clear, complete, and consistent communication, in which there are clear roles to lead family processes.
Virginia Satir presents four styles of dysfunctional communication that often appear in marriages when they are under stress. These are: The Accuser, the Appeaser, The Super Reasoner, and the Irrelevant. On the other hand, she advocates the development of a functional style or form of communication.
The Accuser in the communication in marriage
The Accusing style is the one used by the wife at the beginning of this article. All that wife does is spout accusations of what he did or did not do. She hides her feelings of low self-esteem and vulnerability by trying to control her husband, expressing her disagreement over his actions. The accusing style is continually looking for flaws, criticizing, and name-calling. It is as if the accuser does not feel good unless they are making the other family member feel inferior. This style presents the accuser as superior.
Thus, the husband in the story is using the appeasing style. This husband hides his feelings of low self-esteem and vulnerability by trying to appease, please, and satisfy his wife’s demands. He does this not because he is actually sorry, but because it is the strategy he has unconsciously developed in order to survive stressful times in his relationships.
In this style, the person apologizes so that he/she pleases the other person at the cost of their own emotional needs. Deep down, in this style, the person tries to avoid rejection and seeks acceptance through approval.
With this style, the person uses the rationalization defense mechanism when she/he tries to anesthetize herself/himself and disconnects from her/his true feelings. Her/his communication exists on an intellectual or rational level, preventing the emotions from interfering with the process.
Likewise, this style of negative communication always seeks to be correct, seeks perfection, and runs away from spontaneity. People who use this style externalize their experiences and repress their feelings about the problem they are facing in their relationship.
On the other hand, someone who uses this style handles stressful moments in relationships by pretending that he/she is not there. The person who uses this style feels that she/he is not loved by the family and has no sense of belonging. This person will do everything in his/her power to refocus the communication.
She/he will do it towards something else, something unrelated to the stressful situation she/he experiences and to her/his own feelings. Someone using this style will make irrelevant comments. Comments that have nothing to do with what is being said or asked when communicating.
A good style of communication in marriage
Therefore, as you can see, the communication style you use has a powerful impact on your relationships. Especially on your marital and family relationships. Besides, your communication style will determine the level of acceptance and success you will have in building healthy relationships.
In the next post, I will talk about the functional style. We also talk about how you can improve your communication style if you are using one of the dysfunctional ones mentioned in this post.