Monday, December 11

Relationship Breakdown

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The Importance Of Communication

It may well happen to the best of us. Communication is a really fickle thing, the lines of communication can become blurred every so often, particularly when feelings are involved. Even people who consider they are immune to the perplexity of conflict can find themselves drawn into a communication breakdown when they least expect it and chaos ensues.

This happened with a friend on the weekend, and to be quite truthful, it took them completely by surprise. Even those of us who feel better equipped than countless others aren’t immune. One or two unkind words from your loved one, hurt feelings, along with a defensive retort can leave both with regrets. It had been a silly squabble, over something as simple as a misplaced bottle of soda, the lid off the juice, a magazine not picked up. But to them, it represented something a good deal deeper that has actually been simmering away for a couple of weeks until the frustration reached breaking point. It was intense frustration at having to hunt for something when it is not where it was expected to be. Worse still when one person shifted it and the other person did not know the first place to start searching.

Searching for that specific shirt or needles and thread, mislaid car keys, a document missing from your dresser, missing covers belonging to the outdoor chairs, all were examples of instances where the house had to be turned upside-down. A moment’s thought or perhaps a kind response when these things were discussed would have saved an awful lot of time and frustration. And the answer that was received? “You need to open your eyes and organize yourself better”! This off-hand comment indicated the undercurrent of lack of understanding and lack of compassion that had been running through the marriage for quite some time. One partner did the bulk of the household chores and felt hurt that their efforts were not acknowledged.

Praise or gratitude was not necessarily expected, but simple respect was. Getting told that “I don’t expect you to tidy the home or prepare my dinner each evening”, was interpreted by my friend as ingratitude, and upset her even more. So where to go from here? My friend’s partner felt guilty at coming home every evening to a really perfect home, while she felt guilty if it was not perfect. It was by no means about her trying to make him feel guilty, but it appears it did. And this is where the communication fell down. He misinterpreted my friend’s efforts, and then she in turn misinterpreted his response.

Communication, communication, communication. My friend wanted to be considered when things weren’t put back in their place. When two people live together it involves an adjustment to routines, lifestyle, and attitudes. Some consideration of her feelings needed to be taken into account in order for their relationship to move forward. There was a requirement to voice frustrations before they get to boiling point. What was needed was a commitment to talking about feelings more frequently, and in such a way that both partners could do so without judgment or consequence. Open communication was the key to their success, as opposed to suppressing feelings.

When people feel guilt or stress, it leads them to behave in unusual ways. Often stress and guilt are obstacles to communication. A key to overcoming them is to recognize what it is, and to find the courage to talk about it. You may be able to do it as a couple, or you might want the help of a friend who can listen to the way you are communicating with each other and offer insights and guidance.

My friends eventually got it sorted out and kissed and hugged. It wouldn’t hurt as much if you didn’t feel such love at the same time. However it serves as a good reminder to all. Every so often you become so wrapped up in your own emotions that you forget to think of the other person. Furthermore you especially should try to entertain the likelihood that you are misinterpreting each other. Talking about it is always the best way to show the miscommunication and let the healing begin.

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