Defensiveness: When you are defensive, you are locked in your need to be right. Much like it sounds, defensive behavior is straight out of a sports game. You want to win, you wan to challenge your partner, and you want to get bragging rights and be victorious. Some examples of defensive behavior include:

"If you would have taken my advice, we wouldn't have been late to dinner. I knew that highway would be backed up, I just knew it."

"Like I expected, the kids aren't taking care of the puppy. I told you this would happen. Next time, why don't you listen to me?"

Contempt: Much like criticism, contempt cuts at the root of a person's feelings. Contempt is wounding, useless, and very hard to move past and forgive. When you are behaving contemptuously, you might roll your eyes, mock your partner, name-call, or insult your partner.

Stonewalling: Stonewalling is when you mentally (or physically) remove yourself from your partner and his needs. For example, you might leave the room during a argument, or shut down when your partner tries to talk to you about his feelings. When you stonewall, you might seem like you are taking the high road or choosing not to argue, but you are actually choosing not to engage.

Your partner is left feeling shut out and unimportant, his feelings and his needs cast aside while you seemingly go along with your life stoically. He is left feeling like he is the only one who has any emotions invested in the relationship, a very lonely and awful feeling indeed.

While there is no exact formula to follow for a happy marriage, these studies help to point the way in the right direction-speak kindly, listen, and most of all, have fun together!


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