One of the most difficult things to do in a relationship is to keep the lines of
communication open on both ends.
This is a challenge for those that are just
beginning the relationship as well as those that have been in a committed
relationship or marriage for a very long time.
There are just some things that are very difficult to talk about and
sometimes it just feels like the better choice to swallow the feelings and
thoughts and let them float to the back of our minds.
The problem with stuffing them in the back of our thoughts is that
eventually they will resurface and the task of putting them behind us once again
will be much more difficult.
Even if this process is successful several
different times, there will be a boiling point that you can no longer ignore.
When you reach this point you will not only be unsuccessful in hiding your true
feelings, you will erupt with a force that would make anyone feel uncomfortable
to witness. You will likely say things that you do not mean and you will spin
the truth so far from reality that you may not be able to get it back.
It is never good to get yourself to this point.
The problem lies not only in the
hurt that you will cause your partner when you finally explode but you will find
that you are causing unnecessary pain and mental frustration for yourself.
you suck those comments and feelings into the back of your mind, your loved one
will not have to hear it but you will likely spend hours upon hours thinking it
over in your mind.
You will try to rationalize your thoughts and will play out
fake conversations in your head in which you actually spoke your mind.
For many people, when they are harboring negative feelings and thoughts, their
mental status begins to deteriorate because they are not able to concentrate
when they are so upset.
They often find it very difficult to go to sleep when
their minds are so full of anger or strife so they begin to feel worse as their
bodies cry out for rest, both mentally and physically. When they do finally
drift off to sleep, their dreams are often filled with the same issues they have
been thinking about throughout the entire day.
This makes for a very poor night
of sleep and a morning that is filled with yawns and maybe tears.
Why are we holding back from communication?
so many terrible side effects of holding back from communication in
relationships, why would anyone not want to just get it out in the open and have
the discussion when it is brought up?
Well, the answer really depends on how
long the couple has been together and what the dynamics are in the relationship.
For example, a couple that has just started to form a close bond may find that
they are nervous about making the other person upset. They do not want to ruin
what they feel is a good thing so they simply choose to ignore the things that
are bothering them the most.
What they need to understand is that the way they
communicate in the beginning will help them to develop good communication in
relationships throughout the rest of their life.
If there is a problem, say it!
Even married people and other long term devoted people that have been in a
relationship for a very long time run into problems with communication in
The most common cause of this is just the normal day to day life
events that spread their time so thin. They must work. They must clean the house
and cook the dinner. If they have children, they must care for the kids. They
must serve as a chauffeur for their children to sporting events, and so on and
so forth. Not to mention keeping in touch with their friends and relatives and
helping them out every once in a while, as well as staying fit and practicing
whatever kind of hobby or hobbies they themselves have.
Each of these
things takes up valuable time and soon it feels as if the people in the
relationship are actually just roommates with occasional sexual privileges.
There seems to be no time to communicate so they do what they need to and move
through their lives day to day without really talking.
thing that often happens in a situation like this is that the children grow up
and move on with their lives and the parents are left alone. At this point, so
many years of little to no communication in relationships leave them very little
to talk about and they have to get to know one another once again, as if they
were just starting out in the relationship.
How can we prevent communication
This does not have to be the
case though. There are things that can be done to help keep a strong line of
communication between couples, no matter how long they have been in the
First you should know that the idea of open communication
in relationships can be very difficult to put in place if both of the people in
the relationship are not on board with the plan.
Both parties must understand
that they can be open with their opinions and feelings and that they will not be
lashed out at for bringing them up. Setting this as a basic rule is worth doing:
No interrupting and no lashing out.
Remember, a very important part of
communication in relationships involves listening and both people have to agree
to allow the other to speak while they listen and try to understand the point
that is being made.
When you are able to listen to your partner as they
express their feelings and thoughts, you will begin to get a sense of who they
really are and how they think and rationalize things.
This will be very helpful
to avoid arguments down the road. You will know enough about their thought
processes that you can have a good idea of how they will react to different
things. You may have to phrase your thoughts in a different way to avoid them
being hurt or confused by your comment. When you have a good understanding of
how they think then you will be able to find the words that you are looking for.
It is alright to disagree with each other.
Sometimes something will be
brought up that you simply do not agree with and that is fine as long as you
respect that this is how they are honestly feeling. You do not get to condemn
them for feeling this way. You must simply listen and try to understand how they
have come to this opinion or belief. You may even find that you change your own
opinion once you hear what they have to say about it. If not, then you can
present your opinion or belief and maybe the end will be that you both agree to
disagree and move forward.
If it is something that you cannot simply
agree to disagree on and a decision must be made then you have a number of
options. In the simplest of terms you can create the following scenarios:
a) You both lose.
b) One wins, the other loses.
c) Neither of you wins
d) You both win.
If you want my advice you will need to
avoid both a) and b) above. You must avoid that any of you lose, and if at all
possible you should avoid the stalemate c) (where neither of you wins or loses)
as well. In short, you should always make sure that both of you win more than
you lose - even if it is only a little bit.
Now, most people and websites
will advise you to seek a compromise ... but in general I do not agree. You know
why? Because a compromise is usually characterized by either a), b) or c) above
- either a stalemate - or someone loses, maybe even both parties.
That is just
not good enough. YOU MUST BOTH WIN!
(If you happen to be one of the
growing number of people practicing polyamory [LINK] it is even more important
So - how do you do that?
most important thing when finding solutions often it is a matter of
finding a balance. When you seem to be stuck one possible way of finding a
balance in practice is agreeing to do it one way this time and the other way the
next time the situation arises.
This works very well when it comes to
simple things, like discussions on which restaurant to go to or which movie to
When it comes to more important issues, like how to raise the kids,
what you need is more likely to be a consensus - which is also a kind of
And when consensus is hard to find, you need a handful of things:
communication, more communication, understanding (as in actually understanding
the other person's point of view), letting go
and agreement (consensus).
But still you should absolutely make sure that
BOTH of you win!
That's what communication in relationships is all about -
communicating your way to a point where you both win.
you may need to make some small sacrifices for the one you love, but please do
not let it become any kind of a habit. And making big sacrifices generally does
not work - simply because of the missing balance.
When someone is at the
beginning point of a relationship, it is much better to get this open line of
communication in place then.
You do not want to find yourself ten to twenty
years down the road of your life with regrets about marrying the person that you
If you are able to communicate well from the beginning, you will find out
if this person is the right one for you before it gets too serious. You will
know if they have habits or beliefs that you cannot be accepting of and you can
choose to discontinue the relationship at that point. When you stifle the
communication in relationships you may find things later that you simply cannot
deal with which can leave you in a bad situation.
communication in relationships is also important as we set examples for our
children. There are so many children that are raised by a single parent that do
not get to see what a healthy relationship looks like. They do not have an
example to compare their own relationships to so they are lost in terms of how
to make it work.
When a stable couple shows their children how to
communicate with a level head then they are helping their children develop good
relationship practices that will be very useful to them in the future. They will
see that it is fine to disagree and how to go about finding a resolution to any
problem by simply talking it out. This is a gift that can be given to your
children that does not get passed on too often. If at all possible please make
sure it does in your family.
Starting this "communication-in-relationship" thing:
If you are at a point in your relationship
where you need to open the lines of communication, consider starting slowly. Not
all pieces of information that you share are controversial - there are lots of 'safe'
things to share as well.
If you are going to spend the rest of your life
with this person then it is good to know about their frustrations and joys. And
do remember both the frustrations and the joys - for the sake of balance (again).
I have known several relationships where one partner would incessantly focus on
relating all the negative things to their partner, especially about their job -
and it just became too much. Not one of those relationships still exist today.
Venting is fine, but for the sake of balance you need to relate the good,
pleasurable things as well.
If there are no positive things, you really need to
find a different way to make a living!
When you're just starting out
with this 'communication in relationships thing' you might start off by simply
asking your partner how their day was. Ask them if anything interesting or
exciting happened. But only ask if you're actually going to listen to and try to
relate to their answer. You do need to feel and show some interest in their
If they go into details about their work that you simply do not
understand, ask them questions about it until you do understand - maybe not
everything but the main outlines.
The same is true for you. You should
start up some dialog about your day and what you did at work. Tell them the
funny things that happened as well as those that may have made you annoyed or
Remember to get BOTH the frustrations and the joys in there.
This will help
them to understand what makes you happy or what makes you angry. Let them ask
questions and answer the questions honestly. While this type of conversation may
seem to be menial, it is actually a strong starting point that will lead to
comfort when you are discussing more serious topics.
The very best advice
for communicating with your partner isnever jump to
assumptions or conclusions.
speak their thoughts and if you are not sure what they are saying, ask them to
clarify it. Stay calm and reasonable. If you feel your emotions begin to rise,
simply tell them calmly that you are getting upset and explain it to them from
your prospective. They do not have to agree with you but they will know what you
are thinking and can offer you answers that may change your frame of mind.
You don't have to work with Cognitive Behavior Therapy in your
relationship, but you can use a lot of the therapy to avoid
Take a look at this video. It is about communication
with your boss, but could be about communication and assumptions in
When you are able to talk to your spouse or partner freely and express your
inner most thoughts and desires, they will be by your side always. They will be
able to sense when you are upset and will know just what it was that made you
You can spend the rest of your lives laughing and crying, thinking and
plotting, disagreeing and making up and your relationship will be one of the
strongest that have been found.
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