Most couples don't do anything about communication in their relationships until problems arise, when one of them asks, Why aren't we talking any more?" That's because usually, dating and early marriage contain a lot of talk, but no real exchange of ideas. Why do relationships start out so off track and how do we get them back on track? Let's take a progressive look at relationship communication problems and see if we can find some tools to fix them. Rather than offer techniques, we'll focus on causes of poor communication and solutions.
Why Don't We Talk Any More? I remember this stage in our marriage. I was the one asking the question, but it wasn't the right one. The question should have been, "When would you like to start communicating?" We had talked all along, but not communicated. The further we travelled that road, the harder it was to say anything. The factors involved in this are pretty easy to see and understand if you're not currently in the battle. I suspect you wouldn't be reading this article if everything was peaches and cream. So, first, let's look at why communication regresses as the relationship progresses.
Communication In Courtship: How can we talk so much and say so little? First off, we're all on pins and needles, trying to please this new special person in our lives. Maybe we feel we'll be accepted more If we concentrate on accepting everything about that person and leave out the critical details about ourselves. Secondly, we have a mutual, though unspoken, goal of pairing up, so we don't want any unfortunate information to interfere with our goal. Finally, we're on drugs...yes, all of us...the sex-drive drugs (endorphins, adrenalin, and PEA). The kingpins have never mixed up a more potent cocktail for sale on the street or in the pharmacy. During courtship, all these factors combine to prevent any meaningful communication from taking place. The more intense the relationship, the more we have to lose by saying the wrong thing, so we say less and less.
Communication In Early Marriage: Now the rings are on and all bets are off. We're paired up! We've now developed a tolerance for the sex-drive drugs and an intolerance for each other. All those things that made the other person interesting and unique when we were dating now make them seem foreign a year or two after the wedding. Early marriage communication is best described as...um...argument. Now, all those details and judgments we withheld while dating are magically part of our marriage contract, to be insisted upon and fought over. Usually one or both complain that the other isn't the person they married.
It's true! The person we married was a figment of our imagination...a crude mixture of fantasy, flowers, drugs and greeting cards. Now each of us has unmet expectations. Talking is merely to express those expectations and try to pressure our spouse into compliance. Sound familiar? Almost all marriage relationships go through some variation of the above. Some couples give up at this point. Others fight each other for decades, warping the relationship and disfiguring the mental makeup of their children. It doesn't have to be this way!
Regaining Communication In Relationships: No matter where you are in your relationship, it's usually possible to turn it around. I've often said communication is the basis of all relationships, but that's not where it starts. It starts by loving your partner and building trust that your partner loves you. You can see my Trust Issues In Relationships for more on that side of the equation. We'll be building on the love side in this article. This isn't the drug-induced dating infatuation love, but a deep love that's there whether you feel like it or not. Real communication has to start with unconditional love.
Love is a sacrifice of your wants and expectations to make room for your spouse. You can't communicate if everything is an ultimatum. At least one person has to give in and let the other have their way. Loving relationships (without addiction or mental illness issues) will grow in communication and giving. You actually win by sacrificing for your spouse, because the relationship wins over your selfish desire. As every issue becomes soft and pliable, rather than hard and painful, each of you finally learns to relax and accept who the other is. Once you each feel accepted for who you are, you feel free to reveal intimate feelings and thoughts. This can't happen when you're competing over everything. With the only agenda being to find ways to understand, love and bless each other, you can each open your ears to who the other is, and what is meant by what is being said.
Mutual sharing in communication may seem like a pipe dream at the beginning, but it's very reachable for any loving relationship. It takes sacrifice and a lot of time, but eventually we get to the stage where problems are rare, and usually most communication is unnecessary, because we actually think like each other. I'm sure you'll find many articles on techniques, but any technique will work if you have a loving, self-sacrificing relationship. None will work without it. Since you read to this point, the loving sacrifice in your relationship will have to start with you.
I want you to know there is someone who can help with your relationships, who loves you and wants only the best for you. That someone is God. If you want His help, just click on Help Me God.
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