Good communication is a skill that can be developed; however, anyone can make mistakes when the heart is involved. One of the biggest complaints made by couples who come for therapy is, “communication is our problem.” Is this you? Well then take a seat and continue reading.
A relationship requires “give and take”. This system of giving and receiving becomes most evident when observing a couple’s system for communicating. Going from single to being “hitched” requires you to be in tune with yourself and your significant other. It is at that point that you should be willing to be open, become interested in the other person’s viewpoint, and be able to consider the other person’s feelings. Not to mention, the necessity of letting that person in on your deepest and inner most feelings. Scary!
Being in a relationship requires a mental shift. This was so true for me! Going from girlfriend to wife was a huge mental leap. I didn’t take into consideration the amount of effort that was required to talk things through and build a strong relationship. It had to become less about me and more about us. Who knew I would one day say that being a mother was way more comfortable than being a wife! I have been a mother far longer than I’ve been a wife. I had to realized that I was not the only adult in the household anymore, so I was no longer the one and only decision maker. The amount of discussion, the time, and the energy that goes into making a relationship work is all a conundrum. In the end, when it’s good it’s REALLY good, and it’s so worth it.
I remember a time in my relationship when the communication was at its worst. When communication is bad, everything seems to be bad. I believe that everyone has a place that they go to, in the recesses of themselves, where dysfunction lies. I am not immune. My go to pattern of dysfunction in the past was to retreat and shut down. I would go for at least a few days without talking to my husband. If we were in a disagreement, It would take a while for my emotions of anger or frustration to dissipate before I could talk openly again. That was my coping mechanism. That was my safe spot. If I didn’t have to look at him or talk to him, then I didn’t have to worry about dealing with any more pain. The fact that I could be wrong, in his eyes, was not a feeling that I was ready to surrender to, at that time. It got to a point where I had to choose between my old pattern of communicating or the relationship.
Here’s what I got out of my experience. Being a wife has given me the day to day practice of putting my words into action. Instead of telling people how they should communicate in a marriage, I am actually living out my words and putting them into action. It has challenged me to really dig deep down and become the “manual,” I sometimes wish I could find in stores, on making marriage work. Marriage has placed me in the uncomfortable position of actually putting the mirror up to my own face, looking at myself deeply in the eyes, and saying, “now you taste your own medicine”. I had to recognize that l am not always right. When it comes to making decisions about our family, I’ve learned to acquiesce to my husband’s feelings, opinions, and influence. I first I had to take ownership of my part in the negativity. Taking ownership helped me make the mental shift from girlfriend to wife. It honestly saved my relationship.
Here is what I bring into my work as a therapist. Being a therapist has given me the opportunity to take a glimpse into the personal lives of many couples. I’ve seen The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I have learned from them all, and I’m so grateful for the lessons. Many of the couples say their communication is a problem, because there are too many misunderstandings, too much arguing, or just an overall lack of expression. People tend to think the number one reason for the problems in their marriage or relationship boils down to communication. I know that there is such a thing as “good communication” and “bad communication”, but there is more to it than just that. The behaviors and the attitudes that we bring with us into our conversations, day in and day out, hold the bulk of the blame for when things go wrong.
Take these steps to get the communication moving in the right direction in your relationship today:
- Don’t put all of the blame on poor communication- look at ways in which you relay messages in the relationship, and work toward improving your delivery.
- Take time to determine how you are feeling about the state of communication in the relationship. Do you feel that you have been able to relay your feelings or share information in the most effective way possible? Have you used an assertive way to get your message across as opposed to a passive or aggressive one?
- Self care- Be sure to take time out for yourself in order to ward off stress, internal conflict, or feelings of low self-worth that can lead to mental health concerns. Having a clear mind is the best way to approach any conversation. Especially, conversations that involve reaching compromise, requiring deep understanding, and matters of the heart. It is your responsibility to take care of your mental and physical health.
- Get some skills in your communication tool box by signing up for our FREE Communication Class.