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Reducing Defensiveness in Relationships


One of the best communication skills for couples that I have come across is a way to reduce defensiveness in our relationship. This is difficult to do, but greatly increases the closeness and understanding with your significant other. When communicating about heated topics, searching for and acknowledging areas of agreement can be very powerful in helping both parties feel understood and to reduce the opportunities of stalemate. For example, if you are disagreeing over discipline for your teen, acknowledging that you both love the child and are trying to do what is best can greatly reduce the defensiveness and ultimately lead to solutions you both feel comfortable with. So often in our arguments with our significant other, we do not needlessly need to "win", we want to feel understood, and when we feel understood, we are much more willing to look for areas of compromise. When both parties do not feel understood or listened too, it's almost always going to continue to be a "perpetual argument". Perpetual arguments wear down a relationship over time. We trust each other less and we lose confidence in our ability to resolve our issues. Some issues will not be resolved but they do not need to be cooked over again and again.

Most relationships have some perpetual arguments, but it's how we handle those arguments that are the most important. Remember the health of the relationship needs to be more important than being "right", because being "right" will eventually lead us to loneliness, whether we are still in the relationship or not. Looking for areas of agreement will lead to a closer stronger relationship!

Devona Marshall

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