What is the problem with relationships today? Why is the divorce rate so high? Being divorced myself I have to say that I’ve been through the turmoil and heartache a long term relationship can bring. I find myself often asking, is it worth it? Maybe it’s better to be alone, and I know many people choose to do so, happily. But what if you are not one of those people, and you do want a partner and a healthy relationship? How can you achieve a successful partnership and hold on to your relationship creating long term, sustainable happiness for both of you?
The number one issue couples have today is ineffective communication and misinterpretation. In one of my past blogs I recommend you take nothing personally, and even though this helps keep things clear on your side of the street, it s not so easily applied, and often is not enough. Ineffective communication creates barriers and blockages which leave both parties feeling frustrated, angry, hurt and ultimately disconnected and confused. Once couples enter the stage of feeling disconnected, it can be quite easy to leave or search for connection elsewhere. How many of you can relate to “he doesn’t get me, or she doesn’t understand.” This replayed in ones head over and over again can have detrimental effects on the relationship and can create gaps that later on cannot be removed, instead leading couples to just give up. Instead of removing the space created we tend to push him/her further away by screaming, blaming, shaming, or withholding and staying silent. Often couples shut down completely which leads to the eventual death of the relationship. Silence is contagious, it spreads and leaves you isolated and cut off. Like the song “Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel says, “hello darkness my old friend, Ive come to talk with you again.” The lyrics to this song are very meaningful and its message quite powerful.
In the Sound of Silence, by Simon and Garfunkel, the song says, “people listening without hearing,” and this depicts another chief concern with couples today. I often like to ask my clients, “what did you hear and what are you making it mean?” It is quite astonishing to see when asked this question how wrong we can be in assuming and how much we can misinterpret. The spouse then will often say, “are you crazy , that is not what I meant nor do I believe that.” Then, they look at each other with this astonished blank expression of “aha” now I understand.
Often couples I believe need an interpreter to essentially translate what each of them actually mean. So much gets lost in translation, which brings me to another issue.
Although misinterpreting is very common, it never dawns on us to stop a moment and ask ourselves, “Can I ask him/her what they meant instead of assuming, and can I really listen to their answer without prejudice?” You see, assuming hurts. It can create false stories in our minds that often have nothing to do with the other person and their intentions . Its all our mind chatter, our beliefs, the story we tell ourselves then blame others for it. “You made me say it, you made me do it! If you were here more, then I wouldn’t be like this, if you didn’t nag me so much then I would want to stay more” etc, etc. Does this sound familiar? Painfully familiar!
But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Through the art of relationship coaching, we learn empathic listening and effective communication that allows us to better understand our needs and wants individually and then together as a couple. We learn to listen without prejudice, without interpreting, really listening to another. This is the first step of effective communication. The second is, what is she really saying? What does he really mean? Rarely do people say what they mean, and mean what they say. In relationship coaching we teach people to clearly state their feelings, wants and needs. This clears the air for both parties and lightens the burden and pressure miscommunication can bring. It simplifies things for the couple. By using simple words we can relay our message clearly and effectively without creating confusion.
This brings the couple closer together, creating a safe place for both to express themselves freely creating real intimacy. This is what creates an on going happy relationship. There is more to it than that of course, but that is for another blog!