I knew a lad who failed to communicate his concerns and emotions effectively. He either expressed incoherently or repressed until there was little headspace left, resulting in his emotions controlling him rather than being in control of his emotions. This lad was me.
Personal experience, witnessing relationship breakdowns, and listening to counsel from professionals, have all taught me that clear communication (the ability to express and listen to feelings, emotions, and thoughts maturely) is the most important factor to make a relationship thrive. And failing to do so is the biggest culprit for sinking the love ship.
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Elizabeth Earnshaw said;
The first question I ask couples when they come in to meet with me is, “What brings you in today?”
The response is almost always something like, “We have communication issues.”
The importance of communication
It takes a level of maturity as well as courage to have difficult conversations. Tough conversations either manifest emotions or are fuelled by intense emotions. More often than not, if what you think is a difficult conversation then you need to express it maturely, to dissipate any emotional build-up.
Many people play willfully blind to this, they let things slide or they suffer in silence — these acts of suppression will inevitably come to the surface. And when they do they are magnified and more adverse.
This is why most arguments in relationships escalate, what was a little spat; “Why didn’t you do the dishes?” can quickly turn into “You never do anything for me, nor do you listen!! I’ve had enough of this!!” The latter is most likely a manifestation of several times when your partner didn’t express what they were feeling. And now they’ve blown up like a can of fizzy pop.
If there are concerns in your relationship, don’t get trapped into squashing them down. Don’t put the lid on them, because they won’t go away. They’ll just linger like a bad smell — and get more potent over time.
Couples that can’t communicate effectively will face issues when it comes to intimacy, conflict, and relational growth. In Psychology Today, Randi Gunther Ph.D. talks about how negative conflict such as “The silence treatment” destroys intimacy.
Clearly expressing your feelings and concerns to your partner cultivates a stronger bond. And failing to do so will only manifest a disconnection between you.
Not only does communicating effectively with your partner strengthen the relationship, but it also pulls the plug on any internal ranting. Failing to do so, you not only become susceptible to suppressing emotions, but you’re also more likely to turn resentful and bitter towards your partner because you’ve built up so many emotions throughout your silence.
It’s better to release any emotional dialog to prevent the water from overflowing. Or else things can get messy later down the line. You not only owe it to your partner but yourself too
“Communication is the fuel that keeps the fire of your relationship burning, without it, your relationship goes cold.” — William Paisley
It’s no coincidence that at the beginning of a relationship everything seems to be running smoothly. The two of you are blossoming like a pair of roses in the sunshine. Why? Because you cultivate chemistry by continuously finding out new things about each other. Your relationship is built on solid foundations; you tell each other your ambitions, deepest fears, work, childhood memories.
It’s common that when these acts of communication subside, the sunshine soon turns to shade. Instead of being open and happy, you decide to cloak up, mask up, and become closed. When poor communication starts to present itself, it opens the door to misinterpretation. Because nothing is transparent anymore — nothing is black and white and you start to question everything. A simple act could be perceived to be something more malicious.
Let’s say you/partner is dealing with stress from pressure at work, this may reflect in life at home. Few people manage to leave office concerns in the office. This emotional baggage is infectious and is written all over you, even in the comfort of your own home.
Two common manifestations happen in this state when communication is lacking;
- You or your partner becomes either emotionally unavailable.
- Or worse you start to take it out on each other.
In these cases, the receiver will likely interpret these actions personally and think it’s them who’s at fault. This can easily result in “Jealousy Mind traps” in turn manifesting paranoia and insecurity.
A small problem without effective communication can soon turn into a more destructive issue. Don’t turn a molehill into a mountain.
A healthy relationship
Learning to communicate effectively is the most important factor in a thriving relationship. Therefore, it’s a necessity that you and your partner not only express to each other as clearly and maturely as you can. But you also listen to your partner with equal diligence as you do when expressing.
Love is not a one-sided game. Both parties need to feel equal and validated.
“A landmark study” shows that It’s not who you’re with, but the dynamic you have with them. In summary, it concludes that the relationship quality is more significant than who makes up the relationship.
Healthy relationships rely not only on honesty, openness, and mutual respect. But to truly thrive they also need to be rich with effective listening skills.
Active listening and empathically listening demonstrates you understand your partner’s view, which is essential for validating their emotions. These are the two fundamental skills that all therapists and marriage counselors require. For your relationship to fulfill its potential it’s best to add these two mental skills to your toolkit.
The art of expression in relationships:
- Communicate your concerns effectively.
- Express your emotions with maturity.
- Learn how to actively listen and emphasize with your partner.
- Value your own opinions but don’t invalidate your partners.
For any relationship to blossom, both sides need to elicit expression and engage in active listening. And I promise you, your relationships will not only improve with others but with yourself too.
This post was previously published on Medium.
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