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How Negative Self-Talk Hurts Your Marriage

We all know that in order for relationships and marriages to work out, we need to have good conversations.

But are you aware that many of the conversation that many of the conversations that take place inside your mind also have a big impact on the health of your marriage and relationships?

Negative self-talk can cause you to have automatic responses or reactions to words, facial expressions, or actions of your spouse. And many of those automatic reactions can be damaging.

At the very least, it is probable that those automatic reactions will not help you reach your goal of a loving and harmonious relationship. It is more likely to cause a relational cycle of pain.

Imagine a person looking for a parking spot in busy parking lot in Lake Oswego.

The driver finds a spot down the next aisle and begins heading towards it. Their spouse in does a little “passenger seat driving” and gives directions to go another way.

The driver hesitates, gets a little confused, and loses out on the spot they saw first. And ends up without a place to park at all.

The driver may have the initial negative self-talk of “This person thinks I’m stupid or incapable of parking the car.”

It is possible that there will be a negative automatic response to the passenger’s attempt to help. Whether it is getting frustrated and shutting down or becoming vocally angry.

Here are some ways that negative self-talk hurts your marriage and relationship.

How Negative Self-Talk Hurts Marriage #1 — Creates Distance:

One way that negative self-talk can hurt your marriage or relationship is by creating distance between you and your spouse. This is often one of the many reasons a couple may decide to try marriage counseling.

Maybe you have a voice saying "You're not good enough," or "You don't measure up to your spouse." A reaction to this negative self-talk could be to withdraw or shutdown.

And that could turn to a “I’m not pulling my own weight in this relationship,” or “I’m dragging my spouse down.” A person could end up feeling shame. Or decide that they are not capable of making their spouse happy. So, they quit trying.

And, so, you withdraw. It creates distance in the relationship. And that automatic reaction will not likely help you get to the goal you desire.

How Negative Self-Talk Hurts Marriage #2 — Creates Mistrust:

A second way that negative self-talk hurts your marriage or by creating mistrust. When there is distance, maybe a person starts asking "Well, where is this person at?"

"What’s this person doing?"

"Can I rely on this person?"

Or maybe even a more determined, “I cannot rely on this person.”

And, so, it creates mistrust.

How Negative Self-Talk Hurts Marriage #3 — Creates Conflict:

Negative self-talk can also create conflict within a marriage.

A person may mistakenly say something rudely. We may receive it as "Well, that person disrespects me," or "That person doesn't care about me."

And we get upset. Most people would.

But then we start blaming that other person for hurting us. We start looking for justice or validation. But aggression may cause us from sharing our pain in a clear and vulnerable manner.

Or when someone shares how we may have caused them pain, we may often behave defensively. This is to protect our own ego from the pain of messing up.

And that has the potential to create a lot of conflict.

How Negative Self-Talk Hurts Marriage #4 — Destroys Empathy:

A fourth way that negative self-talk hurts a marriage or is it destroys empathy.

It can be very difficult to empathize with a person who is experiencing emotional pain. It is more difficult when we have different emotions going on inside of us.

Or, we are unable to have empathy for ourselves. We invalidate our own emotions and minimize our own pain.

What Can Help with Negative Messages?

So, what can we do to mute the negative messages we carry?

Learning how to self-regulate our own emotions — can help us to break that pattern or break that cycle of negative self-talk.


Having a strong marriage takes hard work. It takes effort to have successful conversations and avoid communication mistakes.

Negative self-talk hinders your ability to build the marriage you want. It causes anxious marriages.

But the good news is you can learn to make a shift from negative self-talk. Consider finding a professional counselor to help you get started on the journey!


Jason Wilkinson is passionate about helping people get out of the patterns of negative self-talk through individual and marriage counseling. Wellspace Counseling serves the local communities of Tualatin, Lake Oswego, Portland — while also providing services to entire state of Oregon through online counseling.


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