Good communication is very integral to a successful relationship. Those who share a good communication process tend to enjoy a deep and loving relationship. Yet many couples today face the problem of poor communication and it is one of the main reasons for conflict and high divorce rates in society today.
When two people are dating or are married, they have to interact daily and closely with each other. They have to face daily issues and challenges. It is vital that they have good communication and understanding with each other to tackle these issues. If a communication gap develops, it may fester into conflict and then result even in destroying the relationship completely. Conflict due to poor communication has been observed to lead to clinical depression and dangerous habits like alcoholism.
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There are different ways in which a partner has trouble communicating and a gap develops and widens into conflict.
1. Silence and assumptions
Your partner withdraws into silence and adopts the behaviour of a computer - hiding his/her true feelings. He is making assumptions about you and believes he can read your mind without actually communicating. You react to this kind of behaviour by thinking that what he is communicating is “I am not interested in the issue” or “ I have nothing to say.” This gap is the starting of a disagreement and fight.
2. Open disagreement
Sometimes conflict over certain issues is out there in the open, with both partners adopting opposite views on issues. The issues may be as follows: a) I need closeness and intimacy/I need my space, don’t bother me (b) I must have control over you/Don’t tell me what to do (c) We must keep secrets/ Let's discuss everything (d) Conflict and anger should be expressed/ Don’t get angry.
Disagreement also arises if both are not equally committed to discussing and solving the issues. If one is ready and the other complacent, a communication gap develops.
4. Clarity of purpose
While discussing an issue, each partner must be clear in his mind about his aims, intentions, views and stands, before he embarks on the discussion. If you are confused in your mind about the issue, you will have trouble communicating.
5. Hidden agendas
If your partner communicates with you a certain issue but has a hidden agenda, the communication is doomed to failure. If the hidden agenda comes out in the open, it will lead to frustration and bitterness and even destroy the relationship.
6. Awareness gap
Very often, the two of you disagree because you are operating at different awareness levels. Your awareness level is shaped by your upbringing, education, experiences and values and this maybe above or below that of your spouse with respect of a particular issue. One of you has to come down or rise up to the awareness level of the partner, for proper communication.
7. Body language / nonverbal communication
If you are forced to come around to an opinion, your body language and non-verbal actions all give you away - your stiff, cold, rigid posture or composure belies your warm speech.
8. Gender based differences
Sociologists and psychologists have observed a number of differences in the communication patterns of men and women.
Regarding content, men love to report on events, give information and state facts. Women talk to gain information and build relationships with those they talk. Men love to talk about business, politics, technology and sports but women love to speak about people and relationships. Men are obsessed with facts, women with feelings. That is why men complain that women talk too much and women complain that their man "does not open up”. Regarding the way of talking, men talk to the point and do not hypothesize. Women are ready to give details and to speak about hunches and intuition. Men are assertive, independent and objective and women cooperative, dependant and subjective in the mode of communication.
9. Attempts to change the partner
One of the most common reasons of conflict between couples is because each one does not accept the difference of the other and attempts to change and mould the other to their liking. They use harsh communication tools like shouting, criticizing, etc. for this purpose.
Therapists who wish to bridge the communication gap have suggested the following methods to tackle an issue:
Share your feelings about the issue
Send clear, straightforward messages
Talk only about the issue being discussed
Acknowledge/validate what your partner says
Try to see your partner’s point of view
Take time to cool down and return to talk
Keep the focus on finding a solution
Proper communication is vital to any relationship. Couples must learn to embrace their differences. They must constantly appreciate each other to heal emotional hurts. One must pay attention to the partner’s words and empathize with their point of view. They must find a common ground and arrive at a consensus. Proper communication is the path to true understanding and intimacy between couples.