Do Not Wage Psychological Warfare

It is only natural to encounter conflict or to have confrontations in relationships. As people become more familiar with each other, they also become less tolerant of quirks and odd habits. Add to those things the stresses of daily life, which can add up over time.

istock_000005805124xsmall.jpgAs stress in a relationship accumulates, it is only natural to encounter conflict. When approached sensibly and with compassion, conflict resolution can lead to greater emotional fulfillment and closer bonds with your partner. However, many people do not take the time to deal with stress or conflict in a productive manner, and instead begin to snipe at their partner out of frustration.

Rather than engage in a rational discussion regarding the issue at hand, they begin to make personal attacks against their partner’s looks, habits, ideas, and abilities. Not only does acting out in such a manner cause a great amount of emotional harm to the other person, but it erodes trust in the relationship and erects a barrier of suspicion between both partners. When this continues over time it can cause serious, and even permanent damage to the relationship.

Fortunately there are some steps you can take to ensure you continue to receive fulfillment from your relationship and prevent you from sinking into the harmful habit of waging psychological warfare against your partner.

1. Maintain Open Communications

This one may initially take some conscious effort on both sides. Each person in the relationship must learn to stow the ego and listen to their partner with an open mind. This can be extremely difficult, especially if one partner has criticisms of the other partner’s behavior. The immediate reaction is to become defensive, which only serves to close off communication efforts. Each person must be able to trust the other enough to open up and honestly express his or her needs.

2. Do Not Belittle or Criticize

If you and your partner are involved in a heated discussion or are having an important conversation, do not fall into the habit of name calling or making fun of the other person’s feelings or attributes. It is scary enough to muster the courage to discuss problematic issues with the perpetrator of those issues. Do not belittle your partner for coming to you to resolve a problem.

Making fun of your partner, criticizing them for their beliefs or feelings, or otherwise trying to verbally reduce your partner’s sense of self worth only causes emotional grief, which in turn can cause lasting damage to the relationship. It erodes trust and raises suspicions.
On the other hand, listening intently to your partner’s concerns opens the lines of communication and engenders trust. It establishes a bond between you from which you can work to resolve the issues at hand. In the long run, you will both experience greater happiness in the relationship.

3. Do Not Threaten

No matter how frustrated you may become, never threaten your partner. Aside from threats of physical violence, there are a number of other threats that can be just as psychologically devastating.

Do not threaten to run off with the children. Do not threaten to relay your partner’s concerns to friends or family members. Do not threaten to take things away from your partner, or to engage in hurtful behavior.

Threats will quickly break down lines of communication, which can strangle a relationship. Making threats are an underhanded means of trying to manipulate another person and have no place in a trusting, loving relationship. Using such methods will cause serious harm.
Any time you are working through a difficult issue with your partner, be sure to encourage open lines of honest communication, no matter how difficult it may be to hear. Protect the other person’s feelings as best you can, handling them with great care. Do not put your partner’s ideas or beliefs down or otherwise make your partner feel inadequate for voicing concerns, and do not resort to using threats as a tactic to gain or retain control over the other person.

Waging psychological warfare on your partner can cause more emotional scarring and create more long-lasting damage than actual, physical violence. In any relationship, incorporate communication methods that lead to greater self improvement, and create closer emotional bonds between you.

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4 Comments on “Do Not Wage Psychological Warfare”

  • I think your post hits on many of the top issues and proposed remedies to relationship conflict. We can add to that the practice of these techniques. They only matter “in the heat of battle” and that is where so many fail. We must practice conflict resolution.

  • In my experience the trick here to overcome conflict, and in my opinion the way forward, is to have non-relationships i.e. there is no ‘me’ versus ‘you’ there is only us. This ‘us-ness’ provides space. Where there is space conflict cannot survive only love. Then also everything is always fresh and new.

  • One issue, which applies when children are part of the relationship, which I’d like to add, is to be aware of the collateral damage that can be done to children by parents’ psychological warfare. Speaking from first hand experience, the corrosive nature of my mother and stepfather’s relationship – particularly during my adolescent years – had a lasting impact on my adult relationships and informs my fathering style to an enormous degree.

    Parents are the most important role model a child has and it takes a lot of energy and hard work to overcome hatred and anger being presented as the primary emotional expressions in a relationship. This is something that being a father has helped me overcome, but I have had to develop a huge amount of self-awareness along the way.

    Thanks for raising an important issue.

  • [...] B. Bohl presents Do Not Wage Psychological Warfare posted at Slow Down Fast Today!, saying, “As stress in a relationship accumulates, it is only [...]

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