Communication is the elusive temptress that permeates between two people. She is a fickle mistress and needs to be catered to and paid attention to, lest you suffer her wrath.
I feel like more and more, I am hearing about relationships that are struggling and the thing that lies in the middle of the tensions is this thing: communication. Or lack of.
I think about the times when my significant other and I were just not on the same page and so many of those times, we were just not understanding each other fully. Part of this was because we weren’t really listening to each other, which is pretty critical when thinking about communicating with your partner.
Are you really listening to your partner?
You know the old adage: we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. It kind of lends itself here. When communicating with your partner, ask yourself: are you really listening to them? Or are you just hearing them? Yes, there is a difference. Hearing them is acknowledging that sound is coming out of their mouth. Listening is hearing the words those sounds are making and the meaning behind them.
The other end of the communication equation: Talking
Now, this one is tricky. You may be tempted to just spout out the first thing that comes to mind, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Sometimes that can yield some interesting dialogue and intriguing discussion; or just finding out that your partner really likes a TV show that you had no clue that they were into(which recently happened to me. My partner found out that when I was a teen, I loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Happy 20th Anniversary Buff!).
The talking aspect is key to communication though. It is sort of like the debate of which came first? The chicken or the egg? The two parts of communication are talking and listening. Almost always, the talking came first, but still. You can’t have one without the other.
For me, my partner and I have learned to be very direct with each other. I mean painful detailed and direct. We have this unspoken routine when we leave the house together. We go through, in a point by point manner, how we are going to handle the task ahead.
Take grocery shopping for example:
We wake up. I make breakfast, which we eat. Then, we plan our day. We each list off the things we want to accomplish and discuss the best schedule of events. We choose to go grocery shopping first. I itemize our lists to make grocery shopping easier and it makes us less likely to deviate from our menu planning. Then, we grab our grocery bags, leave the house, and get in the car. Then, we discuss the task at hand. We are going to go to grocery store number one first to pick up the following items. Then, we will go to grocery store number two to pick up the rest of our items. Then we will get lunch. We then discuss the advantages, location-wise, of the restaurants that will be most convenient to get to once we are done shopping. Then we talk about whether the schedule has to be rearranged based on what time we get home.
Ensure that you are on the same page as your partner
It can be very irritating and I’d be lying if she had my full attention while we were doing this. However, at the very least, we are on the same page. It eliminates some of the petty grievances we used to experience. We always know what the goals of the other person are, and often help each other attain them. Today, I knew she wanted to get thank you cards out in the mail, so before we left the house for the day, I sat down and addressed them and sealed the envelopes while she showered. While I showered, she looked up the rest of the envelopes, and stamped the rest. That task was completed and we were ready to go on time. All because of effective communication.