Most couples that I meet with want to improve the communication in their relationship. Whether the difficulty in communication has to do with careers, how to raise children, finances, sex, housework, or the in-laws, communication can sometimes become a minefield where neither partner feels heard or valued.
As a therapist, it is sometimes less important for me to know what is actually being said and more important for me to understand how the message is being delivered and received between partners. For example, one assumption of my work with clients is that each person cannot “not” communicate (Watzlawick et al., 1967). Yes, I used the dreaded double negative in a sentence! But, in this case all it really means is that whether you speak verbally or not to your partner, both send a message, and both are communication. It is also true with silence.
So, what does this mean for your relationship? For now, my hope is to get you thinking about your communication in a new way: one where you notice how your body language, facial expression and tone of voice are equally important to what you say with words. For example, if you say to your partner, "would you please take out the trash" with a big sigh of exasperation, you might be saying some very different from "would you please take out the trash" said with a smile. You are also likely to receive a very different response.
There are a lot of nuances to communication. When it comes to our loved ones, friendships, colleagues and acquaintances, my question for you is: how do you want to see yourself and your partner, and how do you want to define your relationship when you communicate? I recently found a quote by Mitch Album, "nothing haunts us like the things we don't say" that I thought fit this question so I decided to make a pin.
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Watzlawick, P., Bavelas, J. B., & Jackson, D. D. (1967). Pragmatics of human communication: A study of interactional patterns, pathologies, and paradoxes. New York: Norton.