I have spent a lot of time working with couples who are having a hard time communicating within their own relationship. One of the first questions I ask them is “Was it always hard to talk to each other”? The answer is almost always no. However, over time, the inability to connect through verbal communication has faded. It’s interesting to note, that I see this more in couples that are younger than 40. I believe this to be true because this demographic grew up with a mobile device attached to their hips and hands, and never actually had to rely on fundamental interpersonal skills. And there are 3 areas that commonly cause problems for us as we try to communicate. Courtesy and basic politeness are in many cases are non-existent in my younger couples. While this may be true at any given age, the art of courtesy is lacking with the 40 and younger crowd (please understand that I am not making a generalization. I simply see it more with these couples).
I’ve written about this extensively. When engaged in mindful conversation with our partner, we do not answer text, emails or take calls. I know I’m guilty of this from time to time. But both my wife and I are very good at communicating our needs when having these discussions. Just another night as we were driving down to the water, I started to discuss our upcoming financial responsibilities. In a matter of seconds, she asked if we could please not talk about that now. That the point of going to the water was to enjoy the sunset and wildlife. In a matter of moments, that conversation stopped, and we were able to enjoy our day talking about more meaningful things.
By showing her respect and honoring her wishes, we could connect to each other and source. She said her request. She was not rude about it. I didn’t take offense to it. We had a lovely evening.
The second area which brings couples do my doorway is their fighting. When two or more are gathered together, there will eventually be misunderstanding and conflict. But if you “fight fair”, it may be a doorway that leads to greater intimacy. Let me try and simplify this. It’s so important that when a tricky conversation starts, be fully present and invest in the process.
I’ve had couples when in the middle of a heated conversation take calls, turn of the TV set and any other thing they can do to avoid intimacy. Because that what this really boils down to. Being vulnerable and resistant to change. There are numerous tools out there that could help alleviate an argument. It would be helpful to research a few, and have them easily available (and agreed upon) prior to a fight. It is much better to be proactive than reactive in these situations.
The final thing I wish to mention is the “I’m sorry” area. So a lot of us have outgrown an apology. We either don’t say it. Or, we don’t mean it. You know the old saying that the best apology is changed behavior. But even before we get to that point, it begins from those words rolling from our lips. I am sorry. And know that not every apology is an admission to guilt. You can be sorry that someone misunderstood what you said. The important this is state it. Give clarifications. Make adjustments. Be open. Be vulnerable and move on. It’s quite the easy process.
If you follow these 3 steps, you should be well on your way to a greater level of communication and intimacy in your relationship. When you are polite, you will typically be met with kindness in return. If you have tools which are agreeable to both of you before a heated discussion, you probably decreased the intensity by at least a third. And it’s fine to say I am sorry and be vulnerable. If we stay closed off, the best we can expect is a connection of small progress and shallow communication. And if you are still reading this. I am guessing you need more from your relationship.