Anyone who has been married will tell you: sometimes communication between spouses is as clear as mud. Usually these experiences are short-lived, especially if a couple is determined to overcome the small things. But communication problems can arise at any time in any marriage and cause any number of unwanted issues! The following are just a few of the common communication difficulties couples in a loving marriage can face over the course of time.
Listening to respond
It is easy to tell your partner, “I heard you.” But were you truly listening? One of the most common communication issues for anyone, but especially for those in a marriage, is the lack of attention when listening. Many people fall into the trap of listening to what someone has to say with the intention of knowing how to respond rather than truly listening to and trying to understand what the other person is saying. In a marriage, this can be especially difficult and cause unique problems as a result. Each partner is tasked with valuing the other person – being defensive, want to have the “last word,” and listening solely with the intention of knowing what to say in return are surefire ways of devaluing your partner. Rather than listening in order to know what to say, listen to understand and really hear what your loved one is trying to say to you.
Another common pitfall is a distraction. In the wake of cell phones, laptops, cable TV, tablets, and other devices, there is significant disruption in communication that these objects, ironically, cause. When talking with another person, each of us desires to get undivided attention. Talking with someone who is distracted in any way can be frustrating and lead to miscommunication. Marriages fall victim to this problem quite often. Two people who are used to the presence of one another often become unintentionally lazy in communication; rather than providing the other person with attentiveness, distractions such as a cell phone are easily accessible and cause a significant disruption in the flow of communication. Try to avoid this problem by putting down the phone, turning off the sound on the TV, or turning away from distracting objects when your partner is engaging you in conversation.
The “silent treatment” is quiet, but very deadly to a healthy relationship. The lack of communication can become a problem when either one or both the people in the marriage choose to ignore the problem (and the other person) rather than dealing with the issue at hand. Doing this frequently can cause permanent damage to a relationship and prevent a couple from engaging in a healthy communication pattern.
Now keep in mind: some individuals require time to gather their thoughts before discussing a problem. Some choose to walk away temporarily in order to temper their anger and calmly return to the conversation. You may be the one who does not want to engage in argument but would rather take the time to reframe your thoughts and come back to the conversation from a rational point-of-view. There is a vast difference between these behaviors and ignoring the problem. Be careful and thoughtful in how you choose to step away from the conversation; be open with your spouse and say something that indicates your temporary need for time or space.
Lack of understanding
Lastly, and perhaps the most dangerous to the communication patterns of a marriage, is an overt lack of even trying to understand the other person’s thoughts and feelings. This coldness can come from a combination of other factors or can, in fact, be the response from receiving similar treatment from the other person. This behavior can spell disaster to a marriage. Without the willingness to understand the other person, communication does not exist. And without communication, a marriage partnership cannot flourish.
Disagreements, discomfort, lack of understanding and awareness, distractions – all of these can wreak havoc on a healthy relationship. But, in turn, these problems can be overcome by intention. Marriage between two people is a promise to love, to honor, and to cherish one another. Disrupted communication can cause a temporary struggle, but those who practice their vows with an intention to overcome their struggles, build a stronger foundation for growing their commitment to one another.