We’re taking a deep dive into the second pillar of our 14 relationship pillars, which we think is the bedrock, or one of the most important, for relationships. We’re talking about the pillar of communication today. Here is a quote from George Bernard Shaw, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place.” And we’d say that’s incredibly true, especially in romantic relationships, wouldn’t you?
What does good communication look like? It’s important to know what it is. And when you see it, how do you know if it’s good or it’s bad? How do you feel about it in your relationship?
Interpersonal relationships have an enormous impact on human life. We really believe that communication is a two-way street. It works both ways.
One of the most important things in good communication is the nonverbal part. This is where you’re attentively listening. You’re watching body language and you’re expressing understanding by nodding your head or just showing emotion with your own body language, but you’re really listening. You’re not speaking.
In Kim’s experience, she’s grateful for the person who is nonverbally communicating and truly listening to what she has to say. She feels that women just need to say it and put it out there. It’s a way of dealing with things. If somebody’s speaking for you and isn’t listening attentively, it doesn’t feel like good communication to her.
Matthew feels that men put their foot in their mouths all the time. They try to come up with a solution, solve the problem, or get the goal, instead of just being present in the moment. Attentive doesn’t mean being a servant. It means listening, acting, and taking in what you’re hearing. Being a good listener means you’ve got to seek first to understand. Stephen Covey said, “Seek first to understand and then be understood.” You’re not going to be able to get your point across, or communicate what you feel, unless you really understand what that other person is saying, thinking, and feeling. If you’re the listener, your mind must be open as well. You need to be respectful of the person that is speaking to you and make sure they feel heard and understood.
Good communication has to be timely. There’s probably nothing worse than when one partner gets into bed at night and wants to have a serious conversation, but the other is exhausted. They’re wiped out and they just don’t have it left in them to have a conversation at that time. It’s not really smart to try to have that conversation when the other person is not able or ready to best receive it. Timing is everything.
When the timing isn’t great, ask to have the conversation at a better time. Timeliness is important. If you see good things happening, like your partner expressing gratitude, let them know you appreciate it at that moment. Communicate those thoughts when they happen. Don’t wait until later, instead take advantage of the time to share in the moment so that you are reinforcing their meaningful behavior and they know the impact it has on you.
Communication is two-sided. Good communication is giving and receiving. Everybody has a contribution to make, or, not make actively, in a good relationship. It has to be frequent and proactive. Reactive communication is the worst, because you’re communicating out of necessity or because things have gotten so bad it’s exploded. You then have to communicate to try to clear the air, as opposed to when you’re given subtle hints from body language or what someone is saying or not saying.
Don’t just respond when you have to, dive deeper and try to get specific. Ask questions that get to the root of what’s really going on. Your partner might be saying one thing, but is it really about the curtains? Or is it about something else? Try to find out if something deeper is going on there, is there something more significant behind what they’re saying? Really try to know and understand each other’s inner world.
Good communication means being open and vulnerable with each other, that’s what provides our emotional connection. We have to keep that two-way street going at all times. Create a culture of appreciation and emotional connection with your spouse. It makes them feel seen, supported, and heard. It creates trust. We all want to feel heard and unquestionably know that our spouse has got our back.
Until next time. Remember, happily ever after doesn’t just happen. It’s all on purpose.