I’ve spent a lot of time working with couples who are having trouble communicating within their own relationship. Among the first questions I ask them is “Was it always tough to speak to each other”? The answer is almost always no. But 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 really had to rely on basic interpersonal skills. And there are 3 areas that commonly cause problems for us as we attempt to communicate. Courtesy and basic politeness are in many cases are non-existent in my younger couples. Although this can be true at any age, the art of courtesy is lacking with the 40 and younger crowd (please understand that I am not making a generalization. I just see it more with these couples).
I have written about this extensively. When engaged in mindful conversation with our spouse, we don’t reply text, emails or take calls. I know I am 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 the other night as we were driving down to the water, I began to talk about our upcoming financial responsibilities. In a matter of seconds, she asked if we could please not talk about that now. That the point of visiting the water was supposed to enjoy the sunset and wildlife. In a matter of seconds, that conversation stopped, and we were able to enjoy our evening talking about more meaningful things.
By showing her respect and honoring her wishes, we were able to connect to each other and source. She said her request. She was not rude about it. We had a beautiful evening.
The second area that brings couples do my door is their fighting. When two or more are gathered together, there’ll eventually be misunderstanding and conflict. But if you “fight fair”, it may be a door that leads to greater intimacy. Allow me to try and simplify this. See the above section on courtesy and politeness. It’s so important that when a difficult conversation begins, be completely present and invest in the procedure.
I have had couples when in the middle of a heated conversation take calls, turn of the TV set and some other thing they can do to prevent intimacy. Because that what this really boils down to. Being vulnerable and resistant to change. There are numerous tools out there that can help facilitate an argument. It would be helpful to research some, and have them readily available (and agreed upon) before a fight. It’s a lot better to be proactive than reactive in such situations.
The last thing I want 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 do not mean it. But even before we reach that point, it begins from these words rolling from our lips. And know that not every apology is an admission to guilt. The important this is state it. Give clarifications. Make adjustments. Be open. Be vulnerable and proceed. It’s quite the simple procedure.
If you follow these 3 steps, you should be well on your way to a higher degree of communication and intimacy in your relationship. When you’re polite, you will typically be met with kindness in return. For those who have tools that are agreeable to the both of you before a heated discussion, you likely diminished the intensity by at least a third. And it’s okay to say I’m sorry and be vulnerable. If we stay closed off, the best we can expect is a connection of little progress and shallow communication. And if you are still reading this. I am guessing you need more from your relationship.