Six Common Unhealthy Communication Patterns You Can Find Yourself Stuck In

unhealthy communication patterns

Whether it is a family member, intimate partner, friend, or coworker, communication is the cornerstone of any relationship. However, healthy communication is not effortless. It’s often easier to find yourself stuck in unhealthy communication patterns. The Gottman Research Institute exemplifies this situation in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse metaphor, where every hurt requires five kindnesses to make up for it. Let’s examine six of the more common mistakes couples make and learn how therapy can help you avoid or recover from them.

Criticism of Your Partner or Spouse

One of the most common communication patterns couples suffer from is criticism. Criticism often begins with statements like, “You’re so…” or “You always…” These statements immediately place blame on your partner or spouse. Criticism is a pattern couples find themselves stuck in because it is more encompassing than a simple complaint. A complaint would be, “I’m mad you never took the trash out today.”


Communication patterns in relationships often involve stonewalling. Stonewalling is the practice of shutting down, failing to speak, not making eye contact, and not acknowledging what the other person has said in an argument or another type of conflict. Many people turn into stone walls when an argument overwhelms them. For them, acting in this manner is a method of self-preservation.


abusive communication patterns

Contempt is a form of abusive communication patterns found in many relationships these days. Contempt often involves insults, sarcasm, eye rolls, mockery, hostile humor, and other inappropriate communication methods. Of the four known patterns of negative communication, contempt is the most dangerous when it comes to the ability to ruin a relationship.

Becoming Defensive

Becoming a defensive person at every turn can lead to serious relationship issues between you and your partner. It’s easy to defend yourself when your partner expresses his or her discontent with you. This reaction is human nature. However, when defensiveness becomes your chosen method of communicating with your spouse, it can derail your marriage in a heartbeat. When we become defensive all the time with our spouse, we are blaming them instead of trying to get to the root of the issue.

Bottling Up Feelings to Save the Relationship

One of the worst things you can do in any relationship is to bottle up your feelings for the sake of saving the relationship. Keeping your feelings inside will only lead to high levels of stress, anxiety, and problems with your health. Bottling up your emotions and feelings will eventually lead to an explosion against your spouse or partner, which might be too difficult to come back from, effectively ending the relationship.

Placing Blame When Discussing an Issue

We all have flaws. It’s how we deal with them and learn from them that makes us unique. Resilient couples avoid placing blame on each other when discussing relationship issues. Never start a discussion with your spouse with the words, “What’s wrong with you?”

Struggling to Communicate in Your Marriage? Seek the Help of a Counselor Today

If you are struggling to communicate effectively in your marriage, it’s time to seek the help of an experienced and professional counselor. Call Marriage Couples Counseling in New York City at 212-673-4618 to schedule an appointment with a therapist today. Create healthy communication patterns with the people around you with proper emotional guidance and instruction.

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