Divorce statistics have been on the decline over the last two years.

It has been hypothesized this new trend could be due to: people marrying later in life; living together before marriage and couples learning how to create healthy relationship behavior.

The highly respected, John Gottman, Ph.D. psychologist and relationship researcher, claims that he can tell if a couple’s relationship will last after watching them argue for 5 minutes. If they display a combination of 5 signs he can predict a future breakup within a 91% certainty.

Five Communication Styles That Can Lead To A Breakup:

1. Delivery:

The first, and most important indicator is, how you approach someone when you are upset. If you are visibly harsh or combative, your partner may automatically shut down before communication has even begun. You make communication offense/defense when you approach someone in attack mode. Start with a calm demeanor, explain in nondefensive language what your concerns are; work as a team to solve the issues.

2. Criticism:

This is attack mode, it can be subtle or aggressive, but you are finding fault with your partner’s personality or character; you are making it personal. Make communication about a specific behavior or action rather than making the person feel bad about himself or herself. An example: “I feel hurt that you did not call me to let me know you were going to be late for dinner.” instead of “I can’t believe you won’t even call when you are going to be late for dinner, you are so irresponsible!”

3. Contempt:

This is very similar to criticism but much more offensive. This is a definite personal attack; it is one partner showing complete contempt for the other. It is used to control a partner, destroy their self-confidence or humiliate them. Contempt can be shown through body language, such as eye rolling, name-calling or severe sarcasm. No form of contempt is acceptable in a relationship.

4. Defensiveness:

“The problem isn’t me, it is you,” “I might have an issue but look at you, you have…” The typical comments used by someone using the defensive behavior. People using this form of communication normally feel like a victim and rarely can see that they are responsible for any wrong doing in a relationship. When someone is in defensive mode: they stop listening, start make excuses, or turn the table on their partner. This makes it very hard to reach any type of conflict resolution with them. It is important to be able to hear your partner when they are upset, accept responsibility for your actions when you are at fault and work on solutions.

5. Stonewalling:

This is refusing to respond or talk about issues in the relationship. If you are keeping things bottled up inside and not communicating how you feel, eventually resentment builds. Your partner has no way of knowing what is wrong unless you tell them. You may see “passive aggressive” behaviors or an eruption when a person just cannot take the pressure anymore. Couples that don’t discuss their feelings are not healthy. Stonewalling is normally a sign that the relationship probably has a number of other communication issues.

Occasionally you may have one of these issues in a healthy relationship, the danger is if they are a consistent part of your communication.

Keep your communication safe, respectful, clear, calm and loving!