Friday, May 17, 2013

"We just can't communicate..."

Communication is one of the primary presenting issues reported by couples to counselors. They identify arguing about everything from finances to parenting to what color to paint the house. Often we will hear a wife or a husband state, "we just can't communicate about anything anymore.

But the majority of the time, communication is not really the problem for these couples. When they were dating, engaged, first married, their communication was great.  They could sit for hours and talk about anything and everything without negative exchanges. Something happened along the way disrupting the smooth communication line between these individuals.

So what is the real problem? What is underlying these "communication" issues? Emotional disconnection.  Relational insecurity.  The needs of each partner are not being met in the relationship.  For example, Michelle needs to hear often from her husband Kevin how much he loves and needs her.  When Michelle doesn't hear this from Kevin, she starts to question his love for her and becomes insecure in the relationship withdrawing more and more.  Kevin who feels this withdrawal attempts to pursue Michelle, desperately wanting to feel connected to his wife, telling her he needs more physical intimacy.  Michelle becomes angry and withdraws even more as she can't believe her husband would expect more sex.  Kevin becomes hurt and angry at his wife's rejection to be intimate.  Both feel unloved.  Both feel insecure in their marriage.  Therefore, any attempt at communication, even about minor things, becomes a major battle.

If you and your spouse are struggling with communication,  evaluate whether it is related to a bigger issue by asking yourselves these questions:

  • "Do I feel secure in our relationship?"
  • "Do I feel my major love needs are being met?"
  • "Is this really about my spouse or is this about my childhood or past?"

By answering "yes" to any of the above questions , you have identified underlying problems that could use some work in yourself and/or your marriage. With this awareness, choose today to respond more positively to your spouse endeavoring to meet their needs.  Most importantly, show your imperfect flawed spouse grace. The same kind of grace you would want shown to imperfect flawed you.