“Words, words, words, I’m so sick of words”
Eliza Doolittle, “My Fair Lady”
Communications is the number one issue that couple’s identify when seeking marriage counseling. “We don’t communicate well”, “We have difficulty communicating”, “ We don’t talk"are some of the things I commonly hear in the first session. Since I know that they are communicating constantly, I press them to clarify for me what exactly they’re saying. My query is usual met with a “deer in the headlights' look. Actually, they’re not sure what they mean. They know that things aren’t working and that communication must be at the heart of it. Yet, they’re hard pressed to accurately describe why they are having so much difficulty with communication. They have difficulty articulating what they really mean because they don't understand it themselves.
We communicate constantly with our partner. Our words, tone, body language and silence are all means of expression. Our point can, at times, come across loud and clear that we are unhappy, disappointed or angry. Unfortunately, we aren’t always clear and somehow we expect that our partner will understand us, if they truly love us. We hide behind anger and silence because we don’t have the courage to tell the truth or the tools to really express our feelings.
It’s taken me some time, but I think that I have cracked the code about “effective communication”. I believe that what people are really saying is, “we don’t connect’.
I don’t understand you because I really don’t know you. It’s easy to pass on information. What’s difficult is communicating feelings, values, opinions, dreams and fears. When client’s share something with me and I ask if they have shared that with their partner, they say, “absolutely not’. I encourage them to do so, because the things they are looking for in their marriage could be resolved if they actually shared these things.
Communicating with our partner is really all about what we are willing to share and how well we are willing to listen. Being open in sharing and active in listening are key components to effective communication. We show our partner that they matter to us when we share and listen from our hearts. Our partner should be the most important person in the world to us. How we listen to them does matter, to them, to you, to your marriage. You need to be kind and open to your partner, when you are, communication goes a long way.