Marital negativity can take a heavy toll on both emotional and physical health. Studies has shown that couples who engage in negative communication patterns are more vulnerable to illness, making it crucial for us to understand the impact of such patterns on our health. According to Dyadic stress theories, negative communication patterns between couples can threaten the immune system and emotional health of the partners. In this article, we will explore how negative communication patterns can affect our emotional, immunological, and relational well-being.
In the book of Proverbs 15:1, it says “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” This verse emphasizes the importance of communication in maintaining a healthy relationship. It is crucial to use gentle words when addressing sensitive issues with our spouse. This not only fosters good communication but also promotes a healthy immune system.
The conducted study
To investigate the relationship between negative communication patterns and health, a study was conducted where married couples participated in two 24-hour in-person visits. During these visits, their baseline interleukin-6 (IL-6) was measured, and suction blister wounds were induced. The couples also reported their typical communication patterns, such as demand/withdraw strategies, mutual discussion avoidance, and mutual constructive communication. Additionally, the couples engaged in marital discussions which were recorded and coded for positive and negative behaviors using the Rapid Marital Interaction Coding System (RMICS). The spouses rated their emotions and evaluated the discussion tone and outcome immediately after the discussions. Wound healing was monitored for 12 days.
The study revealed that couples who reported typically using more demand/withdraw or mutual avoidance patterns had higher baseline IL-6, slower wound healing, greater negative emotion, lower positive emotion, and poorer discussion evaluations. However, couples reporting more mutual constructive patterns reported more favorable discussion evaluations. Moreover, couples’ negative and less positive patterns exacerbated behavioral effects. Spouses had wounds that healed more slowly, reported lower positive emotion, and evaluated the discussions less positively if their typical patterns and discussion-based behaviors were more negative and less positive.
The Bible provides several examples of the importance of good communication in maintaining healthy relationships. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” This verse emphasizes the importance of speaking words that benefit our spouse and promote a healthy and loving relationship.
The negative communication patterns of couples can affect emotional, immunological, and relational health. Therefore, it is crucial to be mindful of the language we use when communicating with our spouses. As Christians, we should strive to use gentle and uplifting words, promoting healthy and loving relationships. Let us take a moment to reflect on our communication patterns with our spouse and take steps towards improving them.
- Practice active listening: Listen attentively to your spouse’s concerns and respond with empathy.
- Speak kindly: Use gentle words when addressing sensitive issues with your spouse.
- Seek a Christian Counselor: If negative communication patterns persist, consider seeking help to improve your communication skills.
- Pray together: Pray with your spouse, asking God for guidance in improving your communication patterns and fostering a healthy and loving relationship.
If you’re experiencing negativity in your marriage, seeking Christian couples counseling can be a crucial step toward improving your emotional and physical health.