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Intimidation - engaging in behavior intended to make your partner do things out of fear. This includes yelling, screaming, threatening, and posturing in a threatening way.
Manipulation - doing or saying things to influence your partner, for your benefit, instead of theirs.
Hostility - using sarcasm, put-downs, and antagonistic remarks. Extreme or prolonged hostility leads to contempt – a major predictor of divorce.
Vengeance - need to “get even” with your partner for a grievance you have against them. Many dysfunctional couples “keep score,” and are constantly trying to “pay back” each other for offenses.
Criticism – involves attacking someone’s personality or character, rather than a specific behavior, often coupled with blame. Like contempt, criticism is a second major predictor of divorce.
Option 3. Positive interactions Start by actually listening not only to what your partners says, but what he or she means. Partners in conflict are not listening to understand; rather, they listen with their answer running because they are defensive. Unfortunately, defensiveness is another predictor of divorce.
Stick to issue at hand. Seems obvious but is very hard to do in heat of battle. Focus and stay in present.
Learn to forgive. Research by Peter Larson, Ph.D., at Smalley Relationship Center, suggests a huge relationship between marriage satisfaction and forgiveness. As much as one-third of marriage satisfaction is related to forgiveness!
Communicate your feelings and needs. Tell your partner how you feel about what they do, instead of accusing them of deliberately offensive behavior. Use “I” statements rather than accusatory, or “you,” statements. Learn to communicate unmet needs so that your partner can better understand and respond to you. For instance, If you are feeling fear, it may be your need for emotional safety and security that is not being met; communcating this is far more effective than lashing out at your partner in an angry tirade.
Dr. Tony Fiore is a clinical psychologist and anger management trainer and facilitator in Southern California. Sign up for his free monthly newsletter "Taming The Anger Bee" at http://www.angercoach.com