In today’s post, I’m going to share exactly why couples who try to talk about their problems discover this process isn’t working for them.
I know many of you who are desperate to talk to your partners, you’ll be wondering – what do we do then?
Before we get to that answer let’s firstly understand why talking for many couples is actually making things worse.
In the last three posts, you’ll notice that the couples were failing to understand the real problem they faced.
In case you missed them
- Should divorce really be the next step?
- One small shift changed her mind & saved her marriage
- Breaking Out of Old Marital Conflicts
These couples were unaware they tried to fix not just the wrong problem, they are trying to fix their own individual interpretations of the wrong problem.
The compound effect of two people trying to fix different problems is just frustrating and exhausting.
I was recently chatting with this lady who had shared with her husband her feelings and he seemed to understand, he said he understood and then instantly proved through his actions he had no clue what she meant at all.
This is frustrating for both people because he probably genuinely thought he did understand.
So there are two problems couples are facing.
- They don’t know how to interpret each other’s intent and meanings correctly.
- They don’t understand the real problem that needs their attention.
Not seeing this creates is a recipe for disaster as the couple try to talk, but their conversation only further proves their disconnect.
What’s worse is people are 100% sure they are being crystal clear in what they say to their partners because in their mind it makes sense.
These people are totally unaware their partner is going to naturally translate their words in very different ways to them.
Add into this let’s say the couple do stumble upon the real problem their ways of fixing the problems are again going to be different.
Let’s go deeper. Communication isn’t just about talking and listening, because there are many filters that govern the persons intent and meaning that must be understood before an effective translation is achieved.
Below are some of the filters that will affect a persons thinking, how they speak and hear.
- A persons’ gender – Men & women are driven differently in an intimate relationship?
- Persons’ history – for example, could they trust their parents? How did love happen?
- Their beliefs – Are they helpful or self-limiting
- What they value – Are they congruent with what they say is important
- The rules to their values – do their rules make meeting their values easy or impossible
- Their fears – What are they trying to avoid, do they know?
All of those filters above will then to be processed through:
- Their generalisations – do their patterns make life easier or harder
- Their deletions – They will delete what they don’t know or understand
- Their distortions – All the filters above will create a unique distortion.
They will use all these filters above to form and create meanings to blindly react to, in their mind, they are reacting to the facts.
In reality, all they have created is a perspective using all the filters above. People will use these filters from birth so they can safely navigate their world – we all do this without thinking.
Imagine all these filters and more affecting two people trying to connect through talking and listening. Can you see the problem and this isn’t even the whole list of filters, I just wanted to give you a flavour of what you are up against.
What’s worse is that the filtering process becomes more binary and less objective the more person becomes fearful. For example, when fear and upset is at the root of their challenge, normal reasoning and perspective is going to distort any good that ever existed.
When this happens intelligent reasoning is replaced with fight or flight as their survival energy takes over.
This is how a persons’ story of their relationship can dramatically change. A loving person who writes years of love letters and cards can suffer in their marriage and then switch to a new story saying – they never loved their partner from day one, despite their partner holding proof of the contrary – this is all down to how they filter their thoughts.
So people really can think themselves out of their marriage.
So how do couples communicate so they understand each other?
At the start of this post, I created a statement; “Why talking about relationship problems doesn’t work?”
It’s because each person is using their own unique filters they’ve been using to understanding their own world to translate their partner words and actions, it’s this process that always fails and creates a disconnect.
So it really boils down to 4 core elements that must be understood
- They must understand how to translate each other’s worlds effectively.
- They must understand how to add value to the relationship and each other when they speak.
- They must understand their partners true intent.
- They must understand how their own filters are affecting what they feel.
So it’s not true that communication doesn’t work but it’s a skill that has to be learnt if you’re going to be fair to the person you love.
I’m hoping you are starting to see what the struggle is and what you must know to overcome it.
Men and women are not born understanding each other’s critical needs in an intimate relationship, so there will always be problems.
With my clients, this extremely complex process of communication requires understanding and then simplification because as a husband, I too wanted an easy way to translate my wife’s actions that respected all her filters in a way that didn’t take us into analysis.
After all, the relationship should be a fun-loving place and if problems hit, which they will, being able to deal with them quickly as a team is so important.
This skill is critical for anyone who wants to create a loving connection. If you can see the value in this foundational skill then please now apply to become a client so you can start to connect and problem-solve effectively.