3 Reasons Couples’ Communication Can Be Difficult

Dialogue is typically defined as an exchange of ideas or opinions on a particular issue. The problem with that definition is, in relationships people often aren’t really listening to each other, and so ideas aren’t truly “exchanged.” Unfortunately, partners who fail to listen to each other effectively limit their own growth and that of the relationship. I hope this blog helps you bring to consciousness just why you feel you’re not getting through to your partner. The next blog post: “Intentional Dialogue: True Connection with Your Partner” covers a new way to communicate that not only feels wonderful but has the potential to change the whole tone of your relationship. For now, understanding just why your typical conversations feel unsatisfying help you start to change them.

In Typical Conversation, We Focus on Preparing Our Response

Contrary to appearances, listening while another is talking is not passive at all but an active process of paying attention that takes focus and effort. Most of us are not focusing on listening; while our partner speaks, our brain whirls away, actively preparing a clever, helpful—sometimes defensive—response. With all that brain activity going on, it’s no wonder we don’t hear our partner’s words.

 In Typical Conversation, We Jump in with Judgments

With true listening, you refrain from telling yourself a story about what your partner’s saying. True listening prevents you from interrupting or giving your opinion. This kind of listening without judgment is a form of kindness and can actually feel restful and relaxing to you because it frees you from your agenda. Often our partner will say something that triggers us and we become reactive. You may start telling yourself a story like, “she doesn’t have the story right.” The person speaking then starts worrying that they’re being misunderstood. Coming in quickly with our opinion of what’s being discussed keeps us from being vulnerable and in the moment. We build a wall of words. The purpose of relationship is not one ups-manship, proving one’s value, or even an exercise in witty repartee. It’s a time to stop and focus on the words of your partner.

Typical Conversation Tends to be Self-Centered

Most dialogues are monologues and create inequality. In a typical conversation each person is focused on their own responses. Usually listening is passive and we are not focusing on listening rather we are preparing a response. Usually the person in authority is trying to get their point across. You may also start to get distracted as your mind forms judgments and opinions about what’s being said. You may also get distracted by hunger, thirst, restlessness and agitation.

Couples Therapy to Get You Back on Track

Particularly when couples’ issues are tackled early on, couples can get back to the positive connection they once enjoyed in a matter or weeks or months rather than years. While I offer workshops throughout the year, private counseling provides the most tailored and fast-acting approach.