The downward spiral.

Some types of behaviour can increase the risk of relationship difficulties.

A staircase showing the downward spiral of bad communication - Contempt / criticism, Poor communication, Stonewalling, Defensiveness, Lack of closeness, Refusal/Avoidance

Share this card

  What poor communication looks like: How you can protect against it:
Criticism Criticism isn’t the same as complaining. It’s a direct attack on your partner. “You only think about yourself.” Try starting a sentence with “I...” and asking for what you need. “I was worried last night. I’d like it if you could text me when you’re going to be late.”
Contempt Contempt is when we are deliberately mean. We might use name-calling, or sarcasm, or roll our eyes to show we’re not interested. Try to focus on what you love about each other. Look for opportunities to pay each other compliments and do things together that you both enjoy.
Defensiveness Defensiveness is usually a response to criticism. We deflect blame onto the other person. “I’ve been busy. Why couldn’t you do it?” Try to see things from each other’s point of view. Take responsibility and say sorry when you’re in the wrong.
Stonewalling Stonewalling is when we get so overwhelmed that we shut down completely, blanking our partner, or walking out of the room. Try to be good to yourself. Take some time out to do something relaxing and enjoyable.


Visit to find out what we’re doing in Brighton and Hove so all parents are #GettingOnBetter.