Communication Gone Wrong: When Partners Misunderstand Each Other
I’ve been married for 28 years and it never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to for my husband and I to misunderstand each other. There have been times when I’ve heard a particular tone in his voice that I thought sounded like criticism when he was really expressing concern. There have also been times when he interpreted my words as dismissing his input when I was only seeking clarification. This particular communication problem occurs more frequently when life is hectic and there is limited time to slow down and listen without distractions.
Why Couples Misunderstand Each Other
Couples misunderstand each other because each person looks at life through a unique set of lenses. Your view of the world is colored by your childhood experiences, your personality, your experiences from previous relationships, your preferences, your mood etc. The same is true for your partner. Communication would be easier if your partner saw the world the same way you did, but of course life and relationships are not that simple.
Misunderstandings also occur because each partner tends to assume that the other person feels and thinks the same way they do about a given event or situation. You may be very annoyed about a remark your friend made, while your mate doesn’t think it’s a big deal. You may react to your mate’s “blah” response, with “You don’t really care that I’m upset!” Then before you know it you’re in a heated argument.
How To Stop The Downward Spiral Into Misunderstanding
Misunderstandings happen frequently in a relationship. It is more likely to happen if you or your partner are busy, stressed, distracted or in a negative mood. So what can you do to minimize this communication problem?
First check yourself. Are you feeling stressed, distracted or busy? What’s your mood like? Are you irritable, upset or angry? If so it would be wise to take a breather. Press the pause button and make a choice not to accept the worse case scenario thought that is currently dominating your mind. Accept the fact that it is normal for your partner to have a different perspective. It’s helpful to realize that if your partner’s perspective differs from yours, it doesn’t automatically mean that you are not loved, supported or validated. Also, ask yourself, am I really listening to my partner? Or am I allowing stress or distracted thoughts to get in the way of my giving full attention to the conversation? My husband often reminds we have two ears and one mouth for the purpose of listening twice as much as we talk.
Next step, observe your partner. Do you notice that he or she seems distracted or busy? If so perhaps it would be best to shelve the conversation until a later time. You may not know your partner’s inner thoughts and feelings, but you are likely to have some idea of their mood. Try to be sensitive to what you perceive as you share with and listen to your partner.
Following these guidelines won’t prevent inevitable misunderstandings. However doing so can improve your communication and minimize the frequency of misunderstandings. Your love relationship is worth the effort.
Have you found any other strategies that have helped you to deal with misunderstandings in your relationship? Please share in the comments below.
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