How to Keep Your Best Friend, After You Say I do

Have you ever noticed that after a couple or so years into some people’s marriage their relationships with their best friend start to change? They may hang out all the time, but most of the time the tension that is in the air is so thick that you can cut it with a knife. The one person you could count on the most before marriage seem to have cut you off emotionally and sometimes even physically. You should never let your marriage cut you off from your best friend. You should never let your marriage turn your best friend into your worst enemy.

No, I wasn’t talking about your best girl friend or your best guy friend; I am talking about your spouse. The person who should be your best friend in the world. I hear so many times people saying that they are about to marry their best friend. This is so very true and should always stay true, but when the honeymoon period is over some people turn from best friends into worst enemies.

So how do we avoid that losing your best friend? Well you all should know me by now and if you do you should know that keeping the lines of communication open is always going to be number one on my list. So I am not just going to mention about communication, but the way in which we communicate. The information that I want to share with you that was previously shared with me. The information talks about four communication styles that are relationship killers. These are the four horsemen, which Dr. John Gottman, a psychologist at the University of Washington, said was the biggest indicators to determine whether a marriage will fail or not. He and his colleagues have studied more than 2,000 married couples over the last 20 years and have been able to predict with 94 percent accuracy which, marriage will last and which will fail. If you don’t want to lose your best friend see if you and your mates are communication style is like that below and if it is you need to hurry up and fix it.  The information below was retrieved from http://www.marleneandbob.com/the4horsemen.pdf

1. Criticism: Attacking your partner’s personality or character, usually with the intent of making someone right and someone wrong

  • Generalizations: “you always…” “you never…” “you’re the type of person who …” “why are you so…”

2. Contempt: Attacking your partner’s sense of self with the intention to insult or psychologically abuse him/her

  • Insults and name calling: “wimp, fat, stupid, ugly, slob, lazy, etc…”
  • Hostile humor, sarcasm or mockery
  • Body language & tone of voice: sneering, rolling your eyes, curling your upper lip

3. Defensiveness:Seeing self as the victim, warding off a perceived attack

  • Making excuses (e.g., external circumstances beyond your control forced you to act in a certain way) “It’s not my fault…”, “I didn’t…”
  • Cross-complaining: meeting your partner’s complaint, or criticism with a complaint of your own, ignoring what your partner said
  • Disagreeing and then cross-complaining “That’s not true, you’re the one who …”
  • Yes-butting: start off agreeing but end up disagreeing
  • Repeating yourself without paying attention to what the other person is saying
  • Whining “It’s not fair.”

4. Stonewalling:Withdrawing from the relationship as a way to avoid conflict. Partners may think they are trying to be “neutral” but stonewalling conveys disapproval, icy distance, separation, disconnection, and/or smugness

  • Stony silence
  • Monosyllabic mutterings
  • Changing the subject
  • Removing yourself physically

So what can you do if you notice yourself participating in criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and/or stonewalling?

1. Learn to make specific complaints & requests (when X happened, I felt Y, I want Z)

2. Learn to communicate consciously by speaking the unarguable truth

3. Learn to listen generously. Listen for accuracy, for the core emotions your partner is expressing and for what your partner really wants.

4. Validate your partner (let your partner know what makes sense to you about what they are saying; let them know you understand what they are feeling, and what they want; see through their eyes)

5. Shift to appreciation (5 positive interactions are necessary to compensate for one negative interaction)

6. Claim responsibility: }What can I learn from this?” & “What can I do about it?”

7. Re-write your inner script (notice when you are thinking critical, contemptuous or defensive thoughts; replace thoughts of righteous indignation or innocent victimization with thoughts of appreciation, and responsibility that are soothing & validating)

8. Practice getting undefended (allowing your partner’s utterances to be what they really are: just thoughts and puffs of air) and let go of the stories that you are making up

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