Communication: The Key to a Happy Relationship

couple under the blanket

Communication is not only the cornerstone of a happy relationship; it plays a key role in appreciating your partner’s emotional needs and resolving issues.

We never thought it would happen in our happy family. After all, our kids were raised the old fashioned way — You take your vows and work through the challenges when they arise! But divorce did happen. I know firsthand that divorce is a heartbreak for all concerned. It is incredibly traumatic when you discover your partner no longer loves you and wants out of their commitment. Lawyers are expensive for the couple as they fight over the finances and who gets what. It is absolutely traumatic for the children to see their parents split. To them, their world has fallen apart as parents vie for loyalty from the child. As a parent of the couple, it is extremely heartbreaking.  Friends are saddened by breakups. Add to this the emotional stress that can cause a person’s health to deteriorate.

People can have a huge disparity in their emotional needs. The number one cause of relationship breakdown is most couples do not appreciate the other’s needs. Second is not knowing how to communicate those needs effectively. Third is not knowing how to reconcile and release their issues.  Often these two people come from dissimilar backgrounds and have had different experiences in their lives, which creates differing opinions and values. Opposites usually attract and that can be fabulous, because what one partner isn’t the other one is. But these “opposites” also can cause absurd challenges in the way we handle things. One may be an emotional, dramatic, loud communicator and the other may see that as an insult to shout when communicating. One may walk away when the other is upset. That is interpreted as an insult when someone is telling you what they think and feel. Some people just bottle it all up and go into their cave when differences occur. Then the other needs to bring everything out into the open for resolution. Both want to fix blame and plead innocence.

Who is in control, spending or budgeting, relationships with in-laws, sex, discipline of the children, all are predictable issues. To bring about harmony and resolution, constructive conversations that really communicate at the heart of the issue must occur. Honesty and openness is necessary from both parties.

Raised voices (often debasing) discounting and accusing can lead to defensiveness and bitterness. The response can lead to withdrawal or an explosion and then retaliation. Hurting people hurt people. Rather than seeing things from the other person’s perspective, we need to defend our own position and prove ourselves to be right. When I assume I am right my assumption means you must be wrong. This right/wrong belief structure creates ongoing issues which may never end. This can develop into a sense of despair and helplessness and a belief that challenges are too great to be resolved. All because basic communication skills weren’t employed!

The objective of productive discussion/argument is seeking understanding by active listening to the heart of the other with the intention of gaining insights into their belief structures. Understanding their model of the world brings a different response besides just a reaction. This leads to cooperation — discovering we both want the same things but we are going about it in opposite ways. We are not in a war where there will be injury, with winners and losers. We both want to create a win-win, with both people finding a satisfactory answer to the turmoil and achieving a new level of communication. The goal in this type of conversation is bringing about acceptable resolution, a deeper love and understanding for all involved.  Happiness and deep meaningful relationships can be achieved when we stop to really hear and feel and then ask, “How can I invest in the happiness of my partner?” rather than asking “What is my partner doing for me?” Investing in others brings its own reward of significance and contribution and my heart is at peace in the glow that follows.

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