Why Communication Is The Oxygen That Keeps Relationships Alive

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Married couples should have plenty to say to each other, but research says communication is one of the issues they struggle with most. Part of the problem may be that communication is a two-way street, requiring both partners to do it well. For couples, she says, communication is like oxygen. The relationship needs it to stay alive. When communicating, there are a few traps to watch out for and some effective strategies to employ.

Getting passive-aggressive. Some people act out their feelings instead of talking about them. That’s called being passive-aggressive and as a relationship strategy it ranks near the bottom. You say one thing and do another, or worse, you say nothing but roll your eyes or sigh dramatically. This communicates judgment and contempt, which is disrespectful to your partner. People usually act passive-aggressively because discussing their thoughts, feelings and opinions makes them uncomfortable or seems too risky. Passive-aggressive habits foster distance between partners so it’s absolutely necessary to replace them with healthier communication strategies to restore the connection.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Assuming your partner is psychic. Sometimes spouses don’t communicate their needs or desires because they expect their partner to somehow know. Expecting your partner to know intuitively what you want without saying it sets your partner up to fail. None of us are mind readers. It’s far more effective, and people stand a much greater chance of getting their needs met, when they learn to share their thoughts directly.

Checking in. Communication often devolves into a heated argument over the family’s latest crisis, or involves the resurrection of old grievances. But communicating should be a way to head off problems instead of causing them, and can be if the right steps are taken.

Addressing the bigger picture. In addition to short daily check-ins, couples should schedule weekly sessions to discuss bigger-picture items. That might include financial goals, work issues or parenting concerns. Some couples do better if the agenda is set ahead of time. If necessary, use a clock to ensure equal talking time. Partners also can use an object such as a spoon or book that is passed back and forth to indicate whose turn it is to speak. Partners are more willing to engage in a conversation if they know they will have a chance to be heard.

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