For example, if your partner does not consider that what you have to say is important. This is not an isolated point, you need to analyze this in the context. When does this happen? Does it happen very often? Does it happen only when you talk to him/her about a certain subject--money, a return to work, etc.? It is important to feel valued in the relationship.
Observe how you and your partner communicate. Is there a certain communication pattern or style? Perhaps you could try a different method of communicating. 1) Sit down with your partner and discuss an incident that troubled you and suggest some solutions; 2) Come to an agreement about the situation; 3) Express your feelings without placing guilt on the other partner.
How we define our roles in the relationship plays an important part in the communication process. Sometimes partners believe that the role of one partner is just to listen while the other partner's role is to do all the talking and make all the decisions. Whatever gender roles are present in a relationship are fine, so long as both partners are in agreement with these roles.
Do you communicate in a supportive or defensive way? Do you communicate in a way that shows your partner that you value him/her? Does the style of communication reflect a feeling that both partners are important? Are you both honest, direct, and non-judgmental?
Sometimes people have difficulty communicating because of unsettled negative feelings about each other or situations. When previous problems have not been worked out, these feelings interfere with current attempts at communicating positively. These are called "carried feelings." Examples of these leftover negative feelings might be 1) resentment, 2) guilt, 3) inability to forgive, or 4) pride.
Sometimes communication is difficult because one or both partners are under too much stress. It is important to determine if the communication difficulty is due to feelings from inside the relationship, or outside. When overly stressed, a person may feel temporarily unable to cope with the commitment of the marriage or partnership. Patience during this time is crucial.
Sometimes partners do not want to listen to each other. Often, one or both partners believe that attempting to resolve problems is hopeless. This is usually based on previous experiences. Remaining pessimistic about the possibility of successful resolution of the problem may ultimately bring about the outcome you did not want. Therefore, it is vital to put in a special effort toward more positive communication.
One of the most important elements of a relationship is having the freedom of expressing feelings. Being able to talk openly and honestly with your partner is essential for a healthy, loving relationship. Expressing your love for the relationship, how you would like to improve the relationship, and your future dreams for the relationship may open new avenues for solving difficulties.
Last revised March 23, 1998
Written by Dr. Carmen Guanipa,
Dept. of Counseling and School Psychology,
San Diego State University.
Copyright © 1998 -- All Rights Reserved -- Dr. Carmen Guanipa