Flooding Kills Marriages
In counseling couples, it is common that the therapist will focus upon how they deal with anger and conflict. What the therapist might see in the couples interaction, is how one spouse uses criticism and contempt in communicating the anger or disagreement, while the other spouse seems not to be bothered. But the reality is that the spouse is stonewalling as protection against feeling mentally and physically overwhelmed. Essentially shutting down and blocking. Marriage killer number 5 is called, “flooding.”
Flooding Follows Criticism & Contempt
Flooding happens when a spouse’s criticism and contempt is so intense and often comes out of nowhere that the other spouse begins to shutdown. I have worked with husbands that may agree with their wife in order to avoid the venting and hurtful words. These men feel defenseless and the more the wife floods him with criticism and contempt, the more hypervigilant he becomes to any indication that she is about to get angry.
The flooding leads to the husband shutting down to protect himself by disengaging emotionally from the relationship. He may begin to work late, volunteer for business trips, spend more time with his buddies, or find other excuses to avoid his wife’s criticism and contempt.
Divorce Follows Marriage Killers
The main issue in flooding is the spouse may not feel safe in the hostility. A relationship is in trouble when disagreements routinely begin with harsh start-ups and the first four marriage killers (criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling). When those four become habitual overtime, the other spouse may feel flooded and simply detach from the marriage as a way to feel safe. Flooding is a predictor of divorce and usually coexists in an unhappy marriage. For the marriage to survive, both spouses need to learn better ways to communicate and work through conflict.
Begin Marriage Counseling
If you are in an unhappy marriage with criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. And if you are identifying with feeling mentally and emotionally overwhelmed and detaching from your spouse defensively. Please call our counseling center today to setup a marriage counseling session with a qualified relationship therapist. We can help your marriage change directions and become a safe place for both spouses to communicate differences.