Name-calling is disrespectful and never acceptable and generally occurs when a partner is so flooded with emotions they’re unable to control what comes out of their mouth,” says Appel.
Everyone wants and deserves to be heard yet interrupting is disrespectful and doesn’t help with the communication process. “We all want to make our point, but constantly interrupting your spouse will lead to one of two things,” shares Appel.
Throwing your hands in the air, eye-rolling, crossing your arms or frowning and scowling when you’re arguing can amplify the tone and temperature of any conflict. It can also block the message you’re trying to send.
Focusing on your partner and not the situation is called deflecting, which is an attempt to shift focus and avoid dealing with negative consequences, shares McDowell.
Getting defensive isn’t fair to anyone - not to you, your partner, and most importantly, your relationship, shares Appel. “If this happens, spend some time reflecting and asking yourself if there was a time in your life when you felt similar to the way you did when you became defensive.
Stonewalling is when one or both partners shut down when feeling overwhelmed during conflict. “Rather than facing the issue, the person tunes out, acts busy or says they don’t want to talk anymore,” says Appel.
When people are uncomfortable, they can become avoidant. Appel suggests asking your partner to look at you when you speak but asking in a way that’s loving.
I remind couples to be mindful of using language like ‘always’ and ‘never’ because they simply aren’t accurate,” says Appel. “It’s usually an exaggeration and puts the other partner on the defensive, which is not helpful for resolution.
Bringing up the past and piling on one thing after the other is known as “gunny sacking”, where the tension is rising and resentment from the past on matters that haven’t been worked out come through,” shares Appel.
If someone speaks forcefully, they’re escalating and if someone is escalating, they’re on their way to losing control. “At that point, a person is not able to have any sort of effective communication and there needs to be a timeout,” warns Appel.