When you and your partner just can't communicate
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Marilyn McKenzie BSc, PGDip, MBACP
16th March, 20180 Comments
Sometimes we say what we mean and mean what we say and other times, especially with people who know us well, we expect them to just get it! There are even times when we don't even know what we are feeling but we will say something anyway!
Does that make sense?
Probably not. One of the things that couples in trouble have in common is the inability to communicate. With couples who argue all the time there is often a common theme. Whether the underlying reason is abandonment, trust, affection or lack of intimacy, couples can find themselves rowing over little things because they can't find the words to say "I miss you, I wish we could cuddle more, I prefer when you use to tell me how much you love me as I don't feel loved right now, do you still desire me as I don't feel attractive anymore".
So many conversations get lost in translation because we either don't know why we feel this way or we are too scared of the answer to ask the right question. Even after an argument there can be bad feelings and resentment but rather then cooling down and discussing the issue, many couples choose to either sweep it under the carpet or not talk for a while (but the feelings are still there).
Part of couples work is to unpick the arguments so that both people feel heard and that they can say what is really bothering them. They may not get the answer they wish but sometimes the not knowing can feel worse. Often I have found that things aren't as bad as the other person thinks, but because they assumed so much about what their partner is thinking, they have expected the worse and have acted accordingly.
Even trying to express the things we want can be fraught with difficulty. Whether it is sex, quality time or even what to do on date night, couples can find themselves disappointed because their partner didn't do the right thing and their partner is completely baffled as to what went wrong!
If you find yourself doing this think about the following:
- What is it that you feel when you don't get the expected result?
- Is this feeling linked to other areas in your life?
- Does your partner really know what is upsetting you?
- Is there a way for you to communicate this without it being an argument?
- Do you sometimes expect your partner to be a mindreader?
- What is the fear of you saying what is really going on for you?
Often it is helpful to just listen to your partner calmly. Take in what they are saying and then paraphrasing it back to them to show they understand before answering back. It definitely helps when you are able to really hear what the other is saying as much as it can be helpful for the speaker to know how they are coming across.
Once you can do that then maybe you will know more about the miscommunication in your relationship. If you find you are still having problems then it might be time to seek external support. Sometimes having that third person can help show you both where things are being misread and how best to correct it.
Miscommunication can be the death of very good relationships; don't let yours fall foul to it.
About the author
I am Marilyn McKenzie and I am a qualified psychotherapist who has worked with couples, addiction, DV, young offending, grief and bereavement as well as anxiety and depression.
I am integrative in my approach but often work systemically. I have a private practise and work with relate.
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