By now, you have learned through this week's blog that communication can involve some rather common pitfalls. How many of these communication issues do you recognize in your marriage? If you find yourself agreeing with the statements below, these may be areas of concern for your marriage. I don't like to argue, because I feel arguing reflects badly on the relationship.
By having the underlying assumption or core belief that conflict is "bad", you are preventing intimacy in your relationship. It's only when we are able to have constructive conflict that we are allowing our spouse or partner to see into our heart to what is bothering us. Not having any conflict at all means that you do not have true closeness. Many times, we assume that conflict is raging or yelling at each other. This is not accurate. Healthy conflict might get a little heated, but it is simply stating how we feel and how we are hurting.
I don't like to discuss our negative feelings because it only makes us feel worse.
Like we shared above, negative feelings that are shared with our significant other allow greater intimacy to grow within the relationship. The opposite of sharing your negative feelings is to stuff them. When we stuff our feelings, it allows resentment to grow and be a part of our relationship, which ends up slowly destroying things. Sometimes, we have to feel worse to feel better. Sharing our feelings can be messy sometimes, but the outcome is much more rewarding than avoiding bringing things up (as long as you have a partner that is receptive to hearing how you feel... even when it's uncomfortable!).
I don't feel I should have to bring up what's bothering me, because my partner should already know.
This is a very common communication myth-- one that we call the "mind reading myth". It simply states that "you should be able to read my mind, and if I have to tell you how I feel or what is bothering me, then you must not really care". THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE! We are all responsible for telling those around us not only how we feel, but what we are needing from them. Owning your feelings and needs, and having your spouse respond to this request by meeting your needs (when they can), is extremely powerful. It can feel very loving to have someone react favorably to owning our feelings and saying what we need. And it can be very manipulative to your spouse when you walk around giving the silent treatment and expecting them to read your mind.
Did you recognize any of these common communication mistakes? If so, we encourage you to begin working on them today... and see just how amazing your relationship can be!
Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.