Are you experiencing a breakdown in communication with your partner? If so, you’re by no means alone. It is said that as few as 2% of relationships end up being everything the couple envisaged it would be when they got together.
Relationships are complex. Why? Because they are living, breathing organisms. They take awareness, understanding and skill to get right.
Below are the three most powerful reasons which silently and surreptitiously turn talking into arguments.
1. Always assuming the worst…
Both men and women make frequent assumptions in their everyday communication, and here’s just one example: ‘Why hasn’t he texted me back!? He’s just not interested! Men always let me down. My ex was obviously right, I’m just not attractive!’ … and all because he hadn’t texted that morning. This illustrates how we make assumptions based on how attractive and lovable we think we are. In this case her new partner is paying for something her ex said to her during an argument, because she’s assuming his lack of contact must mean he feels the same and doesn’t find her beautiful.
Anything your partner says or does has to travel through your own internal filter system. You then make an assumption about what it means based on your beliefs and expectations. However, your assumptions are just as likely to be incorrect as they are to be correct, unless your partner’s behaviour and words are crystal clear. His real reason for not texting is that he’s in an unexpected meeting with a client which is taking all day… and incidentally, he thinks his girlfriend is the most beautiful woman he’s ever known.
However, if she then treats him as if her assumption is true, his perception of her may well change very quickly. Making an assumption is no different to gambling. The fact is that until you ask for clarification, you simply won’t know.
One thing you will notice, is the less positive you feel about yourself, the more negative your assumptions about the meaning behind others’ behaviour will be. The better you feel within yourself, the more positive they tend to be. Observing your assumptions is a big key to assessing your own inner state.
When you make an assumption, good or bad, you will treat your partner as if it’s true anyway, because our assumptions feel very real indeed.
So why is it important to observe the assumptions you make? Well, when you continue to make negative assumptions, your partner’s level of comfort in the relationship, and their chances of survival within it, are greatly reduced because it becomes extremely hard work for them to have to spend time convincing you that they are not doing what you assume they are.
The long term effects on your relationship of making negative assumptions as the norm can be devastating. When you don’t clarify whether you have interpreted something correctly and choose to take offense regardless, resentment begins to build. Over time, one brick at a time, this builds a huge wall of contempt that your partner has little hope of breaking through. Resentment also creates a shift in your own energy and resulting communication that they will sense.
Such a waste, if all of this pain has been based on information that has been completely misread…
Just think back to a time when someone thought something incorrect about you, and how relieved you felt when you were able to explain the truth and put things right. If they hadn’t told you what they’d assumed about you, you’d never have known, and there wouldn’t have been a single thing you could have done about it…
So how can you begin to change your communication straight away? Well, for a start, always assume that your partner is not doing or saying something to hurt you intentionally, particularly if you’re not actually having an argument. Don’t assume that they are setting out to hurt you, unless they have given you a crystal clear message that they are (and if they are, why are you remaining in the relationship, is really more to the point!). Here’s the thing – your partners actions speak louder than their words. If their actions are not loving and trustworthy, ask yourself “Are my filters deleting and distorting this?”, “am I filtering out what my intuition knows and is trying to tell me?”
If something does nip you emotionally, then reflect back to them that you may have interpreted something incorrectly. Do so immediately, lovingly and without accusation. The moment your communication becomes accusational, they will most likely try to defend themselves – automatically as a knee-jerk reaction. Always remember, your partner shows up as a reflection of the way you communicate with them when they’re with you. So ask lovingly, and chances are they’ll respond lovingly. Tip: If you’re feeling very angry, don’t attempt to talk until you’ve calmed down, as your anger will be felt regardless of how well you think you’re hiding it.
With regular practise, issues are resolved quickly and effortlessly and resentment doesn’t build. The relationship flows, with clear and open communication. This is the foundation to building trust. Without trust, there is no relationship.
Ultimately, always remember that relationships are based upon the ability to relate.
2. Low sense of self-worth
Why is it so vital to love yourself within a relationship? There’s a famous saying ‘No one can love you more than you love yourself’. They can try, but you will only be as easy to love as you allow yourself to be, and as much as you believe you deserve to be. The amount of love you’re able to feel when you look into a mirror is the amount of love you will be able to accept from your partner. Anything more than that you will question or reject, making them have to work hard to convince you that you are indeed worth loving. If you can’t love yourself, then how are you meant to believe that they can love you after all?
Contrary to popular belief, loving yourself is not selfish, it’s the most self-less way of being there is. When you love who you are, being love-able become easy because there is no burden on your partner to have to fulfill the love in you that you are unable to provide for yourself.
If it is up to your partner to provide your happiness for you, then they will inevitably let you down, because they are also trying to provide happiness for themselves. If the love and happiness your experience becomes based upon so many external conditions being met, you are likely to put pressure on your partner/be needy and inject fear into the relationship.
So what can you do to begin loving yourself now? Firstly, connect with all that is wonderful about you. Make a list of all the great things you take into a relationship with you. Create some powerful affirmations to keep your mindset focused on all your positive aspects. This makes us feel sexy, and when we’re sexy we flirt and draw our partner towards us. When we feel low, we tend to focus on all we don’t love about ourselves, and this in turn can drain and detract your partner from wanting to be around you.
If does of course go much deeper than this, but self-awareness and taking these small steps is a great start.
3. Different Personalities, Different Sexes too!
You know you love each other, but you just don’t know how to be together without friction…
Every relationship is its own living entity made up of two combined personalities, which are usually very different from one another. In our study of ego and egotypes (the Enneagram), we’ve discovered that most people choose friends who are similar or the same personality type as them, whilst choosing lovers who are very different indeed. This is why so many people face challenges in their intimate relationships, but not in their friendships. We’d even go so far as to say that we seem to like choosing lovers who we know are going to press our buttons. Learning to dance together in flow and harmony as two unique individuals takes an understanding of your two perceptions and views on the world, along with practise in the art of handling one another beautifully. This is why intimate relationships become such a fertile ground for awakening and personal growth.
So what happens when we don’t understand each other’s personality type? Without this fundamental knowledge, the ‘You’re wrong, I’m right!’ scenario plays out; inevitably the stronger personality wins out, whilst the gentler individual begins to experience episodes of self-doubt. This inevitably leads to fundamental changes in behaviour which can cause a slow downward spiral in self-esteem, all of which have a profound effect on any relationship. No one can be their best if they don’t feel good around you.
Instead, just imagine understanding one another at a level which allows you to consciously bring out the very best in yourself and each other? This is why some people thrive in their relationships, and why others silently shrivel up and dissolve.
We truly believe that ‘thiving’ whilst being yourself in the relationship is achievable for the vast majority of couples who choose to be together, even if they are not quite sure how to achieve it. The main element is that you want to be together. We can teach you how. We’ve done it for ourselves and help many other couples to.
Then you have a second layer of differences too. The male and female brains! Men and women think, feel and communicate very differently from one another. If you’re expecting your male partner to understand and read your emotions in the same way your female friends do, then it’s likely you’ll be waiting a long time!
In general, men operate more from their logical ‘left-brain’, whereas women more from their emotional and nurturing ‘right brain’. Our respective communication stems from the parts of our brain we prefer using. Our brain preferences tie in with our personality types too. Men generally tend to prefer to focus on one thing at a time, whilst women find it easier to multi-task. Men tend to base their sense of achievement around their work orientated goals, whilst in general, women base their success and achievement around the quality of their relationships with all the people in their lives – their children, family, partner, friends, colleagues.
While women need to talk to reduce stress, men will want time in their cave. When you tell him all about your problems, his natural instinct will be to offer you a solution. This often drives women crazy, because they’re assuming that he must think she’s incapable of working this out for herself. All it’s actually telling you is that he’s functioning perfectly well, and that he cares. Simply telling a man that she wants him to listen and not provide a solution will appeal to his logical mind and give her the space and opportunity to talk… something this simple is sure to reduce arguments and frustration.
So why is it so important to understand these differences? Well, when we don’t know how to speak to, or listen to, our partner from their own model of the world, generally the woman feels unheard, whilst the man keeps retreating into his cave because he just doesn’t know what to do. She speaks more loudly to feel heard, and he retreats for even longer… communication turns into arguments, resentment builds, and the relationship becomes a place of frustration rather than joy.
Now imagine enjoying a relationship with clear communication and high connection,
which flows effortlessly and brings out the best in both of you.