Many years ago I had a conversation with my wife that could have ended our marriage. And I have seen many couples engaged in the exact same cycle of relationship destruction.
Here's what happened:
My wife said something to me and I responded back. She accused me of having a “tone." Who, me?
So now I am defending my “no tone."
She now says something back with a “tone" in her voice. So I escalate with more of the same. She reacts raising her voice, and now I respond raising my voice even more. She raises her voice and says something not so pleasant to me.
So I raise my voice further and say something not so nice to her. Now we are in a real heated argument. About what… I have no idea.
This conversation is approaching the threshold of relationship destruction. And fortunately I realize it.
What typically happens at this level is that someone says something they wish they didn't say, and the other person says something that can never be forgotten nor forgiven. The words and emotional escalation are devastating to trust and respect in the relationship. As you might imagine escalation can also lead to physical violence.
When escalation occurs regularly, the connection can be severed so completely that it cannot be repaired without significant outside help. When trust and respect have been thrown away, intimacy follows them out of the building and the relationship begins to die.
Here's how to escape the escalation: (continue reading)