In a close relationships between male and female there are two emotional realities: his and hers. Roots to misunderstanding in couples lay far into the childhood. As a little boy or girls you were thought to handle your emotions a certain way. Parent unconsciously use more emotions when talking to daughters than sons. When mothers play with their child, they tend to express wider variety of emotions to girls. When they talk about their feelings, they usually discuss the emotional states more in details. With boys, they are being practical, describing the situation from the view of causes and consequences. Therefore there are many more boys that may become unconscious of their emotions and feelings.
When girls play together, they do so in smaller groups than boys, who put a lot of emphasis on competition. Boy value independency and autonomy, while girls require a strong web of social connections. With time girls become better adept to reading verbal and non-verbal emotional signals, and boys get better at minimizing emotions, especially the ones that have to do with vulnerability, guilt, fear and hurt.
Criticism is the early sign that relationship is in danger. Specifically a personal, harsh criticism. The difference between complaint and personal criticism is that complaint specifies exactly what was so upsetting and criticizes the other person’s action, not the person. Criticism is aiming to attack a person. Such personal attack makes the other person defensive, ready to counterattack in return. It is the most obvious reaction, helping to deal with the anger. Stonewalling is another approach commonly used to deal with criticism.
Another pitfall is feeling yourself as a victim. People in relationships, who feels themselves victimized, are constantly scanning every move his partner does, looking for a way it can hurt him. It puts person on another side in a no-win situation: even if she does everything right and kind, it is being viewed through the negative lens as she is planning some type of attack.
Being flooded means to be overwhelmed and swamped by negative emotions. When you’re flooded it’s nearly impossible to hear without distortion or respond with clear-headedness. People can’t organize their thinking and react primitively to external impulses. On physiological level, flooding begins at approximately 10 beats per minute above a person’s RHR (resting heart rate). If you constantly feel flooded when get into the argument with your partner, it creates a tendency of seeing even the lightest argument as potential threat. Flooded partner starts to think the worst of the spouse nearly all the time, seeing everything she does in the negative light and preparing for battle. More men than women react to criticism with flooding. It also takes more time for men to recover physiologically. That’s why more men are tend to stonewall their spouses, as a natural defense mechanism. On another side or fight, when the wife sees her husband withdraw from engagement, she ups the volume and intensity of her complaint or criticism. Remember, when you stonewall your wife, it triggers flooding in her and a small misunderstanding can turn into a huge battle.
For men the advice to dealing with conflicts is not to sidestep the fight, but to understand that when your partner brings something up, it may be as an act of love, trying to keep relationship healthy. Don’t try to find a shortcut in ending the discussion. Show your spouse that you hear her and try to understand her feelings. When she feels that her feelings were recognized and validated, she calm down.
For women, make sure that your partner doesn’t feel that you criticize him personally. A personal attack will lead to a husband’s defensiveness or stonewalling ,which will only make things worse.
Learn to fight
One of the emotional intelligence skills is being able to calm yourself and the other person down. Calming down is a skill, which takes time to master, but it gives the ability to stop and recover from emotional flooding faster.
Listening is another skill that have a great potential to save the relationship. You need to not just to hear what’s being said, but truly listen, trying to get to the feelings behind the words. One method of effective emotional listening is called “mirroring”, when complaint receiving side repeats it back in his own words , trying to express not just a thought, but the feelings that go along with it. The purpose of mirroring is to make sure you both are on the same page with thoughts and feelings.
Use XYZ as a constructive way of expressing the complaint. When you did X, it made me feel Y, and I would rather have you done Z.
Love and mutual respect are the most effective tools in resolving issues. It works not just in marriage, but in any area of life. Let your partner that you love her, but you see things from another perspective . Fights are not caused just by one person, therefore take responsibility or even apologize if you see you wasn’t right.