When You’re Feeling Flooded By Your Spouse’s Negativity

by | Mar 6, 2020 | Communication, Marriage

Warning! A flood may be coming — especially when your communication gets washed out.

Did you know you can drown your spouse with no water at all? It’s true — it can happen when you feel flooded — a condition that is usually preceded by washed-out communication!

In the closeness of a marriage relationship, from time-to-time we all exchange negative communication. But sometimes we go too far in expressing our negative feelings. Dr. John Gottman, professor of psychology at the University of Washington, coined the phrase,“feeling flooded.” It’s when your spouse tells you something, and then tells you again and again.

Here’s how flooding works. Dr. Gottman suggests we each have a sort of built-in meter that measures how much negativity accumulates during our conversations. How much you can handle before “flooding” occurs depends on your own personality and is also affected by how much stress you’re already under.

What are some symptoms of flooding? You may feel defensive, hostile, or just want to withdraw and go into your shell. So what can you do when you begin to feel flooded?

Just knowing the term can help. Simply saying, “I’m feeling flooded. Let’s deal with this later!” can help the waters to recede. Then after emotions cool, you can revisit the topic or issue that you need to talk about.

And anytime we can focus on the problem and attack the problem and not each other, we are on the right path to better communication. Simply agreeing to not attack each other or defend ourselves is one communication life preserver we all need. We wouldn’t wade into deep conversations without it!