Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Four Red Flags of Marriage

posted by Michele Olson

You know what a red flag is right? When a red flag pops up, it means pay attention. There’s danger ahead. Take a different route, or adjust the direction.

There are red flags in marriage too. The Healthy Marriage Handbook published by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System parlayed the flags into four main points, as written in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman, Ph.D.

Take a look at these four flags and see if they are creeping into your relationship.

Flag one: Criticism

Criticism and complaining are not the same thing. A complaint is toward a specific behavior, but a criticism takes it further and assigns a character trait.
Instead of “you didn’t put your clothes in the hamper” it’s “you’re so lazy.”

Flag two: Defensiveness

We all might want to defend ourselves against a complaint, but this does nothing to defuse the situation. The response can be like throwing gas on a flame. Defensiveness can lead to blaming our spouse instead of listening and trying to understand. When you are defensive you are saying; the problem isn’t me, it’s you.

Flag three: Contempt

Too much negativity leads to conversations full of sarcasm, cynicism and mockery. All of these are like poison in a relationship. This type of conveying disgust serves no purpose but to erode the relationship.

Flag four: Stonewalling

When there’s no hope of progress, one partner (the man in 85 percent of cases) simply tunes out. He doesn’t care; he might not even appear to hear. This happens further into the problematic flags and it can be a very deadly disconnection.

Be on the lookout for these four red flags and stop them in their tracks. Once allowed to progress, they can create a cycle that is difficult to stop.

To keep a check on these flags, consider a marriage check-up, marriage education or coaching for your relationship. Don’t forget to explore all the resources available for you at
What about you? Are you dealing with red flags right now?

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