If you want your marriage to work then it’s critical to get on the same page with this. If we understand the individual words our partner speak why do couples struggle so much when they’re put in a sentence.
Virtually every couple on some level know they have a communication problem but it can manifest itself in so many areas of their life that the real problem can become so confused.
Are we disagreeing about the problem or is it the way we are disagreeing that’s now the problem?
Many couples are experiencing the moment when they say something to their husband or wife and their partner seems to take their words and change it to mean something totally different.
This process can spark conflict as they battle with what was really said and meant. “…if you really think that about me then you don’t know me at all…”
This process is frustrating on both side and can eventually block the desire to communicate openly with each other.
Of course, everyone is different, some people don’t want to communicate because nothing good comes of it so their lives become transactional…
…and some people keep communicating the same thing over and over but are frustrated and in disbelief, they can’t get through so in their mind their partner is broken.
The key to effective communication between intimate partners is understanding the very different ways your partner is going to hear and translate your words before you speak.
Successful marketing people know they must understand how people will react and think to their messages to encourage more sales.
Marketing people want to align the product or service with the needs of their ideal customer.
Talking to your husband or wife is exactly the same process. You must understand your partner world to be able to grow the relationship to a far deeper connection.
This is the responsibility of both people.
Not understand your partners’ world creates a significant risk of triggering fear-based emotions that lead to loss of connection and potential loss of trust that lead to detached self-protective individuals.
You really must understand what your partner is going to do with your words before you speak to be in a position to move a bad situation to a good one quickly.
Far too many people are creating behaviours that are naturally shutting their partners’ emotions down.
This is a key skill to master.
In all my years of helping couples out of a crisis, I have never seen a couple that naturally has this skill.
What women need when they speak is totally different to men in the context of a committed intimate relationship.
At the start of the relationship this distinct difference can be hard to spot, but as time passes couples start to see a few cracks appear, the more time they spend together the more differences they’ll discover and these differences will make no sense on both sides.
I’m sure some of you have described your feelings to your partner and your partner has contradicted or dismissed you on some level.
What couples are not seeing is, when someone is sharing their feelings they are only sharing perceptual facts from their own perspective this is connected to their unique experience.
This is why two people can experience the same situation and put a totally different meaning to that event.
One example that could apply to some of you: I speak to lots of men in a marital crisis situation…
…I’ll asked him this “Have you noticed when you listen to your partners’ problems and you try to help her fix it – she becomes frustrated/angry/upset with you?”
“Have you ever wondered why?” So many men have this experience and are totally confused.
This is one example of him not understanding what she is trying to get to and her not understanding he has no idea how to connect with what she really needs at that moment.
At that moment she could feel he doesn’t care and for him, she’s unreasonable and badly behaved so for him this will create distance and loss of trust.
Couples communication is full of this kind of disconnect and makes them feel they are never on the same page.
Another example: When one person has a problem and the other disagrees it’s a problem this can make their problems far worse. Again what is really happening for both people here – most don’t know.
So now let’s take this a stage further – let’s say I (Stephen Hedger) am right and we are not naturally designed to understand each other’s words and each other’s meanings.
Why don’t we ask our partner what they really mean this will clear it up.
Here is the next challenge when I speak with couples it’s not uncommon for the person suffering to not understand the root reason behind their own words actions all they know is they are suffering.
This is why when people ask for new behaviours from their partner they rarely work.
Some women who are becoming emotionally challenged will know how to describe the pain she is in but she won’t necessarily be good at coaching her man to help her feel better.
He could say “just tell me what to do and I’ll do it”
- Some women know exactly what she needs but he won’t do it because it doesn’t make sense to him or he could be punishing her.
- Some women tell him what she thinks she needs but when he compiles it doesn’t work because she actually doesn’t understand what she really needs.
- Some women really don’t know what he can do so they are both naturally lost – this can feel hopeless.
- And of course we do get the – “if you loved me you would just know” – of course, men will never just know so it is a very unfair position to take with him.
These are some of the many models for couples going round in circles with communication and conflict.
You see you really can’t put a couple in crisis in the same room and get them sharing with each other their problems if they don’t know how to translate each other’s words correctly.
I can’t stress this enough. If there is no way to translate each other’s words it means there’s no chance of empathy and so there is no connection to that person’s world.
Lots of women are coming into sessions complaining of not feeling emotional security with her husband – many men have no internal map to connect to these words, what they mean to her or what he has to do to help her feel safe.
What I hope your starting to see is men and women are not naturally designed to communicate and understand each other, and when stress hits them the differences are naturally magnified.
The key is to know your partner speaks a totally different language to you and unless you learn that language and how their world works you are going to constantly be on different pages eroding critical connections.
This can lead couples to a painful disconnect and this can lead them to a loss of trust and this breaks the possibility of teamwork. Couples in this place can start to look at a future together that’s full of upset and pain.
For so many couples this is a lot of unnecessary suffering. All they are missing is a few key tools and a different level of understanding that will help them see their problems in solvable terms.