No degrading language.
This sounds like a no-brainer, right?
But guess what? When emotions are rising, words are flying, and confusion runs amuck, people say things without thinking.
But that is the key part: WITHOUT THINKING.
When I am not thinking clearly, I say and do things that I later ask, “What in the world was I thinking when I said THAT?”
Oftentimes, when we are feeling hurt or fear or another difficult emotion, we want the other person to feel just as bad. This can be for many reasons, but I often see the motivation to be a desire for empathy. We want the other person to understand us, and what better way than to make them feel the same way we feel, right?
Wrong. Absolutely WRONG.
In fact, by trying to elicit similar emotions in our spouse, we actually create a greater disconnect. We push them away. Not only are we being defensive or attacking, but our spouse does at well.
And then, because we love and care for this other person that we are choosing to intentionally hurt, we now feel even worse because of the added shame and regret around the pain we are now causing.
And then the cycle of cruel words and crazy emotions continues to spiral out of control.
So, we set this rule of no degrading language to help prevent this cycle from taking the conversation hostage.
So What is degrading language?
Degrading language is the way we attack the person rather than the issue. It is important to remember that when you are in conflict, it is you and your partner versus the problem, NOT you versus your partner.
Sometimes degrading language can look like put-downs or insults, sometimes it can be name-calling or swearing.
Make sure that when you discuss this rule with your spouse, that you are identifying SPECIFIC examples to bring both of you to the same page. For example, one person may think “crap” is degrading language, while another person doesn’t see it that way. When your partner shares with you something that they do not like about the way you talk in a fight, take a day or two to mull it over and see how it could be causing issues for your partner in the arguments. Don’t just discount it because you disagree, TALK ABOUT IT MORE.
So when you talk with each other, be kind and don’t use intentionally mean or cruel language. This will help you both learn how to have healthy conflict.
Take care, friends!
Alisha Sweyd, LMFT