“Two monologues do not make a dialogue”- Jeff Daley
Good communication within a couple is a pretty complicated thing. Everyone seems to understand what communication is per se, yet few people are really good at it.
Books and dictionaries of all sorts and kinds define communication as “the dynamic process through which people try to convey meaning to one another”. Since language is the form of communication specific to us human beings, we tend to rely solely on it when we communicate, which is not really constructive.
Communication often has less to do with the words you use and more to do with their underlying meaning. We talked in the previous chapter about the importance of non-verbal communication, without which messages aren’t always received as they were meant to in the first place. Think about the times your girlfriend or wife shouted angrily at you: “It’s not what you said; it’s how you said it.” I bet you didn’t know what she was talking about.
Yes, the power of language is immense. Communicating correctly, using nice words to make your partner feel that you care about her, helps you both reconnect to your inner feelings of affection, and insure the process of bonding. Simple sentences like, “You’re gorgeous”, “You get prettier every day”, “I love talking to you”, “You make my life better”, etc., help you cultivate the quality of affection and kindness, but words are not all there is when it comes to communication.
The way you communicate influences how close and intimate you get with your partner. The first three types will have negative effects on your couple life, and soon your relationship will grow devitalized and the goal of closeness is not going to be met.
As George Bernard Shaw pointed out, “the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”. You might think that you’re doing plenty of talking, but the question is, are you doing it the right way? Or the right moment? Dr. Laurence J. Peter said at one time something that made me smile, but also get concerned: “Speak when you are angry- and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.”
It is important that you follow a few basic rules in order to truly get your partner to understand what you are trying to say. To help you, I’ve described them bellow.
Rock solid principles for good communication
a) Be empathetic. Basically, this means to see things from your partner’s perspective also. Drs. Les and Leslie Parrot pointed this out in one of their analysis on couple bliss: “Research has shown that 90% of our struggles in relationships would be resolved if we did nothing more than see problems from our partner’s perspective. Empathy is the heart loving.” If your partner feels that you understand her and that you are willing to work each issue as a team, she’ll feel safer and more secure when sharing things with you.
b) Be a good listener. Listening is the language of love, popular culture says. If you’ll do more listening and less lecturing, you’ll be more productive as far as healthy communication is concerned. After all, we have two ears and just one mouth for a pretty good reason. So, whenever you feel like interrupting your partner in order to say what you think, stop and just listen till the end. The conversation will run smoother this way and you’ll end up getting along better. I know that it is not easy, especially when you think you have the right answer and if you’d just let it out in the open the whole problem will go away, but it’s the constructive thing to do if you want to build trust and intimacy in your couple. If you want to know specifically how to be a good listener, check out my list of The Seven Qualities of a Great Listener:
- I sincerely want to listen to her point of view
- I am willing to accept her feeling and emotions, whether I consider them wrong or not
- I don’t always want to be right
- I’m willing to develop a non-judgmental attitude
- I’m making eye contact and relying on the soothing powers of touch
- I’m showing appreciation of the fact that she’s trusting me with her confidences
- I will not only listen, but be supportive all the way, for as long as she needs me
c) Express your expectations. If you’re not telling your partner what exactly you want from her, how is she going to know? We’re not mind readers here! Don’t expect your partner to just “get it” and behave like you’d want her to behave. Be specific about your expectations, tell her exactly what you are looking for. Clarity and honesty is key when it comes to good communication. If you are courageous enough to speak the truth, you might be surprised about the positive outcome of your act. Bill Hybels said it best: “It takes an enormous amount of courage to say to your partner, <This is me. I’m not proud of it—in fact, I’m a little embarrassed by it—but this is who I am>”.
Have a sensual week,
P.S. Ask your girlfriend what she feels about the importance of good communication. You’ll see that she, as well, thinks that it is the fundamental glue that holds a relationship together.