DR. CELESTE CATANIA-OPRIS, PH.D., LMFT
Open communication may be considered one of the key ingredients for maintaining a successful marriage. Yet, one of the most common issues affecting couples today is the inability to directly talk to one another. Why is it so difficult? Many of us remember talking to our partners on the phone for hours at a time. Now it may seem as if you don’t have the time or energy to ask, “How was your day?” This change may be due to several outside influences affecting the way we communicate with our partners.
Here are 3 major factors potentially hindering effective communication within your relationship.
Balancing a job, taking care of your children, and making time for family and friends can be rather challenging and overwhelming for a couple. There are only so many hours in a day and fulfilling these responsibilities can be exhausting. By the end of the day, most people don’t have the energy or drive to start a meaningful conversation with their partner. Still, in order to effectively communicate with your significant other, you must remember to offer each other the same amount of time and respect that you would give to a friend or family member. Ask your partner how he/she is feeling today, say thank you to one another, and acknowledge each other’s efforts. Most importantly, show each other appreciation and these small changes can offer you a starting point for effective communication as a couple.
How many times a day do you or your partner check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.? The use of technology may affect your relationship in a very negative way. People can feel left out or ignored by the excessive use of technology. Try to limit the time you use social media. If you are on your phone in bed every night before going to sleep, then you may be unintentionally shutting out your partner. Your significant other is lying next you and wants to feel needed by you. Make eye contact with one another and try to initiate a conversation. Start with small talk, such as something that made you laugh that day or discuss a situation that frustrated you at work. These minor shifts can ultimately lead you both towards effective communication.
All parents raise their children differently. Nevertheless, our upbringing may impact the way we respond and react as adults. For instance, if a little boy were to get hurt, some parents would expect him to brush it off and to not cry, whereas other parents may instantly comfort their son. Girls, on the other hand, are frequently hugged, reassured, and often spoken to by a majority of parents when they get injured or begin crying. Essentially, boys may learn to be closed off and girls may in turn learn to be more vocal. This doesn’t apply to every family, but it does happen. The issue lies once we become adults and enter a relationship. Our roles can then become jaded, resulting in misunderstandings and even unnecessary arguments.
We behave in ways that are familiar to us and make us feel comfortable. Being aware of your background and discussing these factors with your significant other may prove to be beneficial and advantageous for your relationship especially when trying to understand your partner's habits and tendencies. These ideas can also help you to make sense of why your partner may communicate in certain ways. In turn, participating in this open discussion may lead you both towards communicating effectively.
Tell your partner how you would like to be spoken to and recognize that your partner may not be purposefully talking to you in a way that turns you off or pushes you away. Perhaps it may be the only way he/she knows how to communicate. Always strive to understand one another. There may be times of uncertainty within your relationship, but remember that the love you share is real and it is uniquely yours.