I meet with a lot of different people each day, all trying to figure out why they are unhappy in their marriage or why relationship isn’t working. They all want to find some sort of common ground of understanding. However, many couples don’t realize that they are a lot more similar than they think and usually want the same thing: To be happy and to stay married.
But since we tend to marry someone of the opposite sex, finding that happy place can prove to be really difficult and sometimes downright frustrating. When it comes down to it, COMMUNICATION, or the lack thereof, is the root of all marital breakdowns.
Yes, the symptoms vary:
- no sex/intimacy, no touching/hugging
- resentment, anger, yelling
- rejection, disrespect, loneliness
- avoidance, separation, emotional shutdown
- arguing, hurtful words, cussing
But at the end of the day, so much can be resolved with proper/healthy communication.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is that we actually have no clue how to communicate properly, especially in our intimate relationships. We read books and articles on the “how to’s” about relationships, but then we get triggered, have a knee-jerk reaction, and things blow up again, so none of it matters and we end up getting stuck in a vicious cycle of resentment, loneliness, frustration, and rejection. We were taught to react, justify, defend, judge, compare, argue/debate. This type of communication does not create trust or safety. It only separates, alienates, and comes from a place of FEAR, not love. But of course, we can’t help ourselves because that’s what we were taught as children and at school.
We were only taught how to listen to respond or act, however, we were never taught how to listen to understand. And this is not just men. Women have the exact same problem.
Before I worked with couples, I used to be a successful software sales rep. I won free trips and prizes due to my ability to provide great service to my clients and listen to what’s important. I THOUGHT I was a GREAT listener until I realized I wasn’t. When my clients were telling me about their challenges, I was already rehearsing in my head how I would solve their problem, and how I was going to close this sale instead of truly listening to what they were saying (and not saying). Eventually, I became really masterful at my job, and won many awards, but I stopped listening. I started to assume I knew what they wanted. I stopped being curious. I took those opportunities for granted and then my numbers started to slip again… until I went back to my old process.
So it’s not our fault that we don’t know how to properly communicate or listen. No one taught us. We learned from how our parents acted towards each other and us. If a parent would walk away during a fight, chances are we would also do the same in similar scenarios. How we behave are all just functions of our beliefs, our environment, and what we were taught growing up by our parents, society, pop culture, etc.
We need to learn how to listen to each other without interrupting. Interrupting, in my opinion, is the #1 bad habit that I see right away.
As a Relationship coach, one of the gifts I give my clients is the gift of my listening.
They tell me that they had never felt listened to before and all the emotions that they had been holding back all come flowing out with such ease and relief.
Feeling unloved, not good enough, and rejected are so hurtful even for the most macho-est of men. Perhaps that’s why so many people feel anxious entering any sort of romantic relationship.
Love can be a double-edged sword; it can bring feelings of euphoria, but love also includes loss. Many of us would rather forego the experience of love to avoid the feelings of the potential loss. Yet, we were made to love and be loved so depriving ourselves of what is our birthright is unhealthy and dangerous.
So here are a few tips that I can share around creating deep intimacy and connection through Communication:
1. create a safe space for you and your partner to share whatever is on your and their mind. That means keeping negative feedback out of the conversation.
2. When someone is sharing something vulnerable, don’t justify or get defensive. Just listen with compassion and empathy. It’s their own emotions. They are allowed to feel whatever they want to feel
3. Don’t make it about you, and don’t take it personally. Leave your ego out of it. This is a tough one because this is the point where the trigger originates.
4. Acknowledge their courage to be honest with you even if the communication is difficult for you to hear and you feel defensive.
5. Give them your undivided attention and make eye contact. Show them that their feelings are important to you. Validate and empathize with them.
6. If you are the one sharing, be responsible in your language and don’t play victim. Own your emotions and do not blame or accuse. It’s never one person’s fault.
7. Strive to be vulnerable. There is such power in facing your fears and opening your heart. Your partner will respond differently if you do.
If this is an area that you and your partner struggle with, I invite you to book a consultation with me!
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