Despite what books and movies would have you believe, marriage isn't a fairytale; it's full of ups and downs, highs and lows and disagreements galore. It's how you handle the hard times and hash out your problems that will determine your ultimate success as a couple though. So are you fighting fair or consistently hitting beneath the belt? Here are 7 signs you're headed down the latter path. Let this be a wake-up call!
1. You use the past against him.
In order to get what you want and make him back down, says marriage consultant and coach Lesli Doares, author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage. "You know he's made a mistake he's ashamed of, and you bring it up anytime he questions something you've done." Um, not cool. Another common, albeit completely detrimental tactic, is bringing up sensitive material that was shared with you in confidence and using it in a hurtful or destructive way, points out Dr. Jane Greer, a New York-based relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship.
2. You talk over your partner.
And it's impossible to get a word in edgewise. "You allow him to say enough to find something you disagree with then you interrupt to defend that point without letting him finish his entire thought," details Doares. Every time he tries to continue you just keep hammering your point home, which is not only unproductive, but also extremely infuriating for him.
3. You resort to name-calling.
Instead of discussing the real issue at hand, you lash out and call him names or attack his character. "You tell him he's being stupid or that his opinion is completely ridiculous," notes Doares. Sound familiar? While we've all been there before, it becomes a problem when the behavior turns into a communication pattern.
4. You don't take any responsibility.
It's all his fault, and he should be the one begging for forgiveness, not you. Er, wrong! It takes two to tango (and fight). Even if he "started" it, you have to be willing to own up to your mistakes too and be self aware enough to recognize your part in the problem so you can hash things out like adults.
5. You dismiss or minimize his feelings.
In other words, if you don't like the fact that something you did hurt him, you tell him he's being crazy, wrong or way too sensitive, says Doares. "These are common ways to get yourself off the hook without having to really look at your role in the relationship," she explains. Remember: just because you don't share your partner's viewpoint doesn't mean you have the right to invalidate how he feels. Really listen, and try to understand where he's coming from.
6. You give him the silent treatment.
Anytime he brings up a topic you'd rather not talk about, you shut him down by keeping your lips zipped. "Sometimes this is used as a punishment to show him the price of trying to share his feelings or desires," informs Doares. Take it from us; avoidance and refusal to address your issues, no matter how hard it may be, will get you nowhere.
7. You like to deflect.
As Doares puts it, you run through everything that's wrong, including the kitchen sink, as opposed to staying on topic. "When he mentions something that's bothering him or that he'd like you to work on, you respond with, 'Well you do this, this and this.' You may have valid points and those should be addressed," she notes, "but not at the cost of deflecting something that's important to him."