Certain habits are sure to destroy your marriage. One of those habits, escalation, is a principle described in A Lasting Promise: A Christian Guide to Fighting for Your Marriage._ The authors describe how they can predict divorce with surprising accuracy by observing a couples’ communication when resolving differences. When a couple engages in escalation, they increase their chances of heading down a path that will ultimately end with divorce.
What is escalation?
The authors explain, “Escalation occurs when partners respond back and forth negatively to each other, continually upping the ante so the conversation gets more and more hostile.” You may be familiar with this in a different form. Imagine a group of mothers sitting together, one of them explains how her 3-year-old son colored a nice picture of a bug and managed to stay within the lines. The next mother then describes how her son actually drew a picture of a bug, followed by the next mother explaining how her son memorized the names of all the bugs that have ever lived and so forth.
When you escalate in your marriage, you are always trying to outdo your spouse. You attempt to slander your companion while elevating yourself. Escalation can be recognized with sarcasm, rolling your eyes, throwing your hands up in the air, yelling or making that letting air out of a tire sound. Each of these actions can lead to something even worse. As escalation continues, you will end up threatening each other with separation or divorce.
How does it affect your relationship?
The Bible teaches, “He that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.” (1 Peter 3:10 KJV) If you find yourself tempted to escalate by pointing out the perceived incompetence of your spouse, please remember that you should hold your tongue — if you want to have a good day. Once you say something, there is no taking it back. Words can have a powerful effect on us. Positive words have the power to build, encourage and inspire. Negative words can deeply wound and scar the sensitive emotions of an individual.
Think of your words as seeds. Each time you speak to your spouse, you are planting a seed in her heart. A wise man once said that a happy wife is a happy life. Happy words create a happy spouse. As you learn to control your words and your body language, as you refrain from speaking negatively about your spouse your relationship will blossom.
Here is a secret I have learned to stay madly in love with your spouse. If you’re going to escalate, escalate in a positive way. Anytime your spouse says something nice about you, respond with something nice as well. Just like negative escalation leads to divorce, positive escalation has the opposite effect. Keep praising your spouse. Point out all the good things. Encourage and speak highly of your companion and your relationship will be strengthened.
Make an effort to only speak good about your spouse. As you remember that you are on the same team, every day will be a good day.