Life can be very demanding. Between work, kids, spouse, bills, planning, doing….all of it. Relationships take a lot of work. Marriage takes a ton of work. Have you wondered why your partner stopped listening to you? Over time, relationships can become overwhelmed with emotional baggage. How do you deal with the stress? How does your partner feel you deal with your relationship? Dreaming of having a healthy, safe, and open dialogue?
The solution of what to do is simple. Hearing, understanding, relating, and expressing compassion….that’s what your partner needs, but it’s easier said than done. We have to first understand ourselves, by understanding where we learned to communicate in the first place.
How communication is learned is a mixed bag. A high percentage comes from family of origin. The family you grew up in taught you the norms of how to communicate or not communicate. What was allowed and not allowed. What you learned as a child influences your daily life today. The marriage you create includes your childhood communication style. How did you learn about vulnerability? What was the rule in your house about speaking up? What about not speaking up? How about asking for what you needed or wanted? These are important questions. Gaining knowledge about yourself can be empowering and give you hope. Because you now can change what you need to change. It’s also important to know yourself well, so you can see what your partner sees in you. Having this knowledge about yourself can give you the power to change. Taking responsibility of how you choose to not communicate or communicate can help untangle the confusion between you and your partner. Your partner did not grow up in your family. Families communicate differently. Some are quiet, shy and others might be boisterous and open. It takes courage to change. To be able to look at yourself and say, “I guess I really don’t know how to feel safe, understood, heard, or believed.”
Now, when you learn about yourself, you gain insight into your beliefs and assumptions that come up when your partner is communicating with you. Being able to hear your partner requires vulnerability on your part. That means not having your guard up or holding onto resentments and anger. Or at least putting those aside for a later time. It’s true you may be feeling hurt, but your hurt won’t change your partner’s perspective. Your partner’s issues need to be addressed as well as your own. One person’s resentment doesn’t trump the other. Although, many times in session, I hear one person trying to make a case for how their pain is more important than their spouse’s. This is a mistake that will lead to more resentment, pain, and distance. For example, communicating with vulnerability sounds like this, “I hear you. I know you’re in pain. I want to help, but I don’t know how.” A more defensive and resentment filled reaction would sound like, “I can’t believe you are doing this again.” “Why aren’t you doing something.”
Taking responsibility to communicate effectively is essential to experiencing a good relationship. Having healthy communication with your partner can help with meeting needs and expectations. When communication becomes challenging, you may need a third party. Beginning counseling can get you on track, so you find hope within yourself to make the change. Don’t wait for your partner to change. Get the direction you need so you can be prepared and better equipped to understand yourself. With counseling, you can be able to get what you need!