It is hard to underestimate the importance of healthy communication with our partners. Many of the problems facing us today as we navigate the often complex waters of our relationships could either be solved or at least minimized if only we could learn to talk, listen and comprehend each other better.
There are many barriers as to why we might find such a seemingly simple task to be so complex. For some, their ego might not allow them to hear criticisms of their behavior as anything more than minor nit picks. Others might have grown up within a difficult family environment where they felt that their opinions were not important and have carried this lack of confidence with them into their adult interactions.
No relationship exists in isolation. In every instance, each partner will be bringing a life time of experience, expectation and concern to bear upon a partnership and each person involved will have a different level of comfort and ability when it comes to their communication skills. Just because someone is talking with you, it doesn’t follow that they are communicating what they actually mean and there can be many reasons for this.
They might be worried about how their partner will react to something that they are worried about or they may not want to sound silly when discussing a certain subject. As such, whilst it is important that we all learn to communicate more effectively, it is also vital that we learn to become good listeners.
Many people will view a conversation as a waiting game, a time for them to say the things that are on their minds without really taking in what the other person is trying to convey. This is not at all uncommon and something widely recognized in relationship therapy as a problem to be overcome. This is also one of the reasons why therapy can be very helpful in these situations as the therapist takes on the role of the adjudicator, making sure that both parties are being understood.
Another seemingly obvious issue is to try to be as honest and open with your partner as possible. Ego can also rear it’s head here as for some being honest about concerns they have can feel like a weakness and contrary to the version of themselves that they present to the world and those around them.
To be open with your partner can make some feel vulnerable, especially for those that have had difficulty being open with loved ones in the past. It may seem risky, but honesty will also show an immense amount of trust to your partner and nurturing a compassionate environment where you can both discuss your needs and concerns can be nothing but helpful for your relationship.
Lastly, try not to ignore issues that you are worried about and if your partner brings up something that they feel needs to be addressed, try not to switch into a defensive position. This can be very tricky as it is only natural to defend our actions and take offense when what we could think of as flaws are pointed out. If you are able to see the situation from all angles and perspectives, rather than jumping to the defense, then you might also be able to learn more about yourself and any wider issues that might be in play.
As ever, if any of the things we have discussed today are causing issues for you and your relationship, then please do feel free to get in touch to discuss what we can do to help you.