4. Time does NOT heal all wounds
What I have noticed most with couples that continually engage in destructive communication patterns, i.e., fighting, is that the hostility and resentment often leads to apathy amongst couples. Think about what was discussed in No. 2 with the amygdala being activated and remember that the high state of arousal cannot remain at this highly charged level. This often lends itself to a more toxic environment and one in which partners cannot remain in for extended lengths of time.
5. Emotional safety is compromised
We all seek safe, empathetic and loving attachments and usually we can find this through our partner’s positive unconditional gestures, behaviors and overall mannerisms. If we maintain a lack of openness, this often yields frustration and anger that builds upon resentment that can erode the trust and ultimately emotional safety, which is the cornerstone for an intimate relationship to flourish.
6. Giving up
There is a limit to acute levels towards mental, emotional and psychological constraints. It’s like this: When continual strong emotions are present, the limbic system, or our primitive emotional part of the brain takes over. It’s now driving our bus, so to speak. It can be likened to a switch in our brain, which literally turns off the intelligent and wise-minded thinking in our pre-cortex area. This is ultimately the area of our brains, however, that is necessary to be activated in order to think clearly, explore our options and look at another person’s perspective. In other words, we begin to have what cognitive behavior therapy calls ‘thinking errors.’ In this manner, our thoughts are negatively focused, hence much more polarized to black and white type of thinking that can ultimately be viewed as either under or overly reactive. This type of thinking can lead us to be motivated, and in turn behave, in a manner that we initially never intended.
7. Physical tolls on our bodies
Constant bickering between partners can literally wear one down to the point that this defensive reactivity places our bodies in a constant elevated stress response that was described above. This response can inhibit rational and clear-minded thinking and tax us not only emotionally and psychologically, but physically as well. This is related back to that ‘fight, freeze or flight’ response whereby constant high levels of emotional stress can trigger a whole army of health problems on a body. This fight or flight response activates the body’s sympathetic nervous system to actually release stress hormones, such as cortisol. This breakdown on the body’s hormones causes a whole slew of physical reactions such as headaches, irritability, nausea, shortness of breath, and muscle aches and tension, to name a few.
As you may have surmised from what ineffective communication can do to couples, overcoming them should become a couple’s top priority. Be responsible for your role in the fight and avoid the mindset that your partner is somehow “causing me to lash out.” This way of thinking only exacerbates the endless problem communication do-loop and leads to stagnation, or worse, separation from the one you love.Subscribe to Military Spouse's Weekly Newsletter