Do We Have Communication Issues?

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Welcome to Part 3 of this week’s series: Are We Ready For Marriage? 7 Questions to ask yourself.

If you missed the first two parts, here’s a breakdown:

  1. Do our Goals and Values Match? and Do We Have Chemistry? Click here

  2. How Do We Work Out Disagreements? Click here

Today I’ll be tackling the question: Do We Have Communication Issues?

Let’s jump in!

Jason and Kendra have been dating for two years. Kendra wants to get married, but every time she brings it up, he says they aren’t ready yet. He brings up the fact that she’s in medical school and needs to focus on her studies. Kendra really feels like Jason is avoiding marriage and it’s getting very frustrating because her family keeps asking questions about their future plans, and when they will settle down and get married. Kendra’s mother even told her she thinks Jason may not really love her because if he did, he would’ve proposed after the first year.

Kendra felt very insecure after this conversation with her mother. She tried to talk to Jason again while he was driving her home from work, but he got angry and said she was trying to force him to make a decision he wasn’t ready for.  Kendra got really upset at this and called him a coward. Jason didn’t say a word. He drove away and didn’t answer her calls or text messages for two days.

Finally, he came over to her apartment while her roommates were at work. He apologized for his behavior and told Kendra how much he missed her and that he didn’t want to be without her. Kendra apologized for calling him a coward. They ended up making love and Jason spent the night.

It’s been two weeks since that argument, and Jason hasn’t said a word about the original issue of the argument: taking their relationship to the next level and getting married.

Kendra wants to bring it up again, but she’s worried that things might blow up and Jason will ignore her for days again like last time. Maybe they should wait until she’s done with medical school, like Jason suggested. Maybe she’s overthinking things and letting her family get to her…..

I’m pretty sure it’s clear that Kendra and Jason aren’t communicating properly. Kendra wants to get married (permanent commitment), or at least have an actual conversation about it instead of getting shut down by Jason. Jason wants….well, we’re not sure exactly what he wants because he’s avoiding the issue every time Kendra brings it up. He even uses sex as a way to pacify her and sweep things under the rug. One thing is sure though; if this issue doesn’t get fixed, Kendra will either leave Jason or go along with his avoidance and stay unhappy.

Communication is so important in a relationship. It’s the way we express our needs and wants to our partner. But sometimes, the message doesn’t get delivered because

a) It doesn’t get communicated

b) The way it gets communicated isn’t right

I could write a whole series on communication just by itself. But in today’s article I just want to focus on a few communication patterns that I see a lot (and that I’ve gotten stuck in myself!)

  1. You don’t address the issue when it happens then blow up later over a minor issue and bring up EEEEEVERYTHING you don’t like in one conversation (flooding).

You may think you’re being patient by letting it go (and maybe you are!). But you can be patient and STILL have a calm conversation about it. The reality is, if it’s bothering you, it won’t get better with time. You have to just address it and resolve it.

When you flood your partner, it’s going to feel like an attack and their first reaction will be to defend themselves by a) blaming you or b) shutting you out completely. Neither of those helps the relationship.  The best way to resolve an issue at its root is to focus on one issue at a time instead of throwing everything out in one conversation.

2. The blame game.

This one is so common. Your partner tells you something they don’t like. You don’t even take time to think whether they have a valid point or not-you just get defensive and find something wrong that they do. You figure “Shoot, you wanna bring that up? I got stuff on you to bring up too!”

Spoiler alert-no one wins the blame game. You’ll go back and forth, and the disagreement will get bigger because each person is getting more and more offended when stuff is brought back from the past.

Not only that, but it shows that your ego is more important to you than resolving issues. You’re not perfect; everyone has stuff they need to work on. Instead of getting offended when your partner points out your mistakes or flaws, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Your relationship, your love is the most important thing. Be open to making adjustments and growing for the sake of the bigger picture-loving your spouse.

3. You shut down.

Like Jason, you simply don’t want to talk about it. Maybe you don’t know how to; it may feel uncomfortable or bring up memories and emotions you’d rather not deal with. So you act like it doesn’t exist. But that only gives the problem more power over you and your relationship. It becomes a weed that starts to suck the life out of the good, happy aspects of your relationship.

Stuff that doesn’t get repaired just gets more damaged. You may not see it at first. Your partner may do a great job of hiding their hurt and disappointment. But sooner or later, it will all come crashing down, because you didn’t want to talk about it and your partner got tired of pretending and waiting.

One of the reasons why people (especially men) find it so hard to communicate certain things is that communication requires VULNERABILITY. A lot of people are just not comfortable with the idea of letting someone see them in that light. Our society doesn’t make it better either. Men are expected to be “strong” and anything that involves admitting weakness (I have a problem with…..or I struggle with…..) is extremely difficult.

Someone has to take the first step in being vulnerable. Until a change is made, communication patterns will continue. The good news is, all you need to do is focus on making one small change at a time. For example, Jason can try listening to Kendra’s reasons for wanting to get married instead of stopping the conversation altogether. Understanding Kendra’s deeper desires behind wanting to get married will help Jason see Kendra’s vulnerability. Hopefully, in time, he’ll feel more comfortable making himself vulnerable during this conversation too.

Stay tuned for Part 4 of Are We Ready for Marriage series. I’ll be tackling the question “What Do I Know About Their Past?” You don’t want to miss it!

P.S. Do you want more stuff to help you get ready for marriage? Get your ebook bundle here: Love From the Inside Out