People use criticism to blame and attack their partners character. The focus is on the person and not the undesirable behavior. Criticism statements will begin with the words, "you always" or "you never".
Examples: "You always hurt my feelings", "You never take me out anymore"
Contempt-intense negative interactions
Contempt accompanies or will follow criticism in a heated exchange. Disrespectful statements meant to psychologically abuse a loved one display contempt. Through verbal and non-verbal means, contempt sends the message of disgust and worthlessness to your partner.
Examples: Sarcasm, hostile humor, mockery
Defensiveness-biological response to criticism and contempt
In the face verbal attacks loaded with criticism and contempt, people have a natural tendency to defend themselves. Defensiveness occurs when the pain from being unfairly judged, blamed, and harassed reaches its emotional limit.
Examples: Denying responsibility, making excuses, repeating statements, and counter-complaining
Stonewalling-another defensive tactic
As the name implies, stonewalling occurs when a wall (physical or psychological) is up to block communication. Used to diffuse conflict, stonewalling in reality escalates conflict. The attacker then feels ignored or disrespected, responds with criticism, and the cycle continues.
Examples: Ignoring, leaving the room, physical barrier between you and your partner
Although difficult to break, these patterns can be changed. Working on communication and learning to focus on behavior and not character can slowly repair the damage. Refer to the books below for additional information: