Got your attention on that one? Seriously, it is said that sex and money are the two main reasons that people divorce. I can boil it down even further. People divorce because they have communication breakdown, mostly about sex and money.
What would happen if we could improve communication? Let me give you an example. I have a friend, let's call him Oscar. Every time I see Oscar and we are around a group of people, he says something obnoxious to me. Yet, when I talk with Oscar alone, he is the nicest guy. I had not seen Oscar for months and was congratulating myself that I didn't have to deal with his obnoxious comments. Wouldn't you know it, the next day I saw him. True to form, we were in a group of people and he said something obnoxious to me. I knew it was going to happen, I had predicted it! So I was all ready for him with a smart comeback. Then I felt bad.
Let's put this in the context of marital communication. You know your spouse and his/her habits better than anyone else. You presume you know exactly what he or she is going to say and do (that annoys you), so you have a ready response. What if you did not use your ready response? What if instead you said, I'm not going to respond the same way today. What if we said to ourselves, maybe my spouse is having a bad day. Maybe my spouse is aggravated about something completely unrelated to me or our relationship but is expressing it to me. Your spouse would likely be taken aback or thrown off course by this different behavior on your part. He or she may realize that the same old triggers won't work on you like they used to. Perhaps these different responses would cause your spouse to change behavior as well, although that is not our goal here.
Don't get me wrong, it is very difficult, nearly impossible to change your ready responses that you've been using for years. I should have been more sympathetic to Oscar and responded in a different way rather than defensively jumping right back at him. I have to work on this. I think we all need to work on this. Improved communication could possibly save a friendship or relationship or marriage. It's worth it to try.