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One of the most common problems in a marriage that seems like it is falling apart is lack of communication.

It happens to the best of us. Communication is such a fickle thing, and the lines of communication can become blurred every so often, especially when love and feelings are involved. Even those who think that they are immune to the confusion of conflict can find themselves drawn into a communication breakdown when they least expect it, and chaos ensues.

Even those of us who are better equipped than many others are not immune. This happened to me on the weekend, and until to be quite honest, it took me by surprise. My spouse told me something that really hurt my feelings, and I automatically lashed back in defense.

It was a silly argument, over something as simple as a misplaced bottle of perfume. But to me, it represented something much deeper that had been simmering away for a couple of weeks. I get frustrated at having to search for something when it is not where I expect it to be, worse still when my partner has shifted it and I don’t know the first place to begin searching.

Perfume, needles and thread, car keys, a Tupperware container to store my baking soda in, covers for our outdoor chairs, all were examples of instances where I had to turn the house upside-down. A simple answer from my spouse when these things were shifted would have saved me a lot of time and frustration. And the answer I got? “You need to open your eyes and organize yourself better”

I was gutted. When I come home from work I exercise the dog and cook dinner so that it is on the table by the time my partner gets home. The house is always spotless and warm, as I’m very conscious of coming home to a tidy environment.

I see this as a fundamental part of my role in coming home first, and it takes a lot of my time. To imply that I have the time to “organize yourself better” really hurt.

I don’t expect praise, but I did hope that my efforts were recognized. I got told that “I don’t expect you to cook my dinner every night.” That was interpreted by me as ingratitude, and hurt me even more.

So where to from here? My spouse felt guilty at coming home every night to the perfect household, where I felt guilty if it wasn’t perfect. It was never about me trying to make my spouse feel guilty, but it seems it did. And this is where the communication fell down. He misinterpreted my efforts, and I misinterpreted his response.

Communication, communication, communication. I needed my partner to keep me informed of where things move to. I need to be informed. I need to voice my frustration before it gets to boiling point. We both need to talk about our feelings more, and how each of our contributions to our home and our relationship make us feel, and how we interpret each others contributions.

Just because something isn’t spoken about, doesn’t mean it’s not important. A relationship or marriage is not a competition, but for many couples it feels like it.

When people feel guilt or stress, it leads them to act funny ways. Often stress and guilt are barriers to communication. The key to overcoming them is to recognize what it is, and have the courage to talk about it. You might be able to do it as a couple, or you might want the help of a friend who can listen to the way you are communicating with each other and offer insights and advice.

We got it sorted out, and kissed and hugged. It wouldn’t hurt so much if I didn’t feel such love at the same time. But it served as a good reminder to me. Sometimes you get so wrapped up in your own emotions that you forget to think of the other person. You also need to entertain the possibility that you are misinterpreting each other. Talking about it is the way to expose the miscommunication and let the healing begin.

A good lesson to learn, even for the experts’

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16 Comments

  • Ginger Cullen

    This is so true! Communication is so important. Sometimes there are really hard conversations you have to have about how your feeling and it can be intimidating, but it is really important to just sit down and discuss your issues without getting agitated or loud. Another good tool to use is The five love languages book so you know how your partner receives love. 

  • Rob

    There are very good points here that can help out with all kinds of different relationships besides spousal. I can see this advice applying equally as well in business relationships, commerce, friendships, etc. If we take the time to listen to each other and ask for clarification instead of lashing out based on our initial assumptions then society could be a much more welcoming place. We need to start with ourselves and recognize when we react this way, and then we can see how others would react that way and head it off before the fighting starts!

  • Dane

    Communication skill in relationships have been a very important factor for a smooth path in a relationship or marriage. Some couple don’t have time to listen to the problems of their spouse. I’m glad to have come across such educating post. I fell off a great relationship because I was too timid to open up to someone and I don’t want to be a victim of such experience again. I’ll go on educating others on to  danger of lack of communication in relationships or marriage myself. A great post I must say

  • Vicki

    I feel communication done properly is the greatest gift to any relationship and often has saved marriages because each person sits down and speaks what is happening for them but it is so important that each person gets to speak without interruptions and each person must be prepared to adjust their thought, sometimes compromise and accept we cannot change the person,we can only change ourselves

    Good post thank you

  • Wanda

    What a topic for discussion!!  

    I have always felt communication is critical in everything we are involved in.  Whether it’s our marriage/relationship, our work environment, clubs, children, the list goes on.  We need to be open and honest and communicate with others.

    We are all quick to read minds and assume what others are thinking.  But as you pointed out with your husband, you thought one thing and he was thinking the opposite.  This leads to bitterness and resentment.  Nothing gets resolved and the anger just expands.

    You couldn’t be more correct, we all need to communicate more, our marriages and relationships all depend on them.  There are no stronger couples then those that can communicate effectively.  A key to a HAPPY Marriage.

    Wanda

  • MissusB

    I appreciate how you shared your experience with us. I agree that every relationship must have a strong communication to better rely our messages especially if it’s preempt with wrong choice of words. It can be patched up as long as the communication line is open. Sure there may be some fights but as long as you both to settle the matter with good reasoning and explaining from both sides, those misunderstanding can be resolved. I remember when my mom used to tell me that it’s ok for couples to fight but never use foul languages, curses and hateful words against each other. It could ruin respect and once you’ll get use to say ugly words with each other, the relationship will start to become intolerable. With my 14 years of marriage, we never cursed each other because we think that it’s degrading your better half. You are right when you said that things not spoken doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. All matters within the relationship – physical, emotional, spiritual, everything within its bounds are important. It should be talked about and settled with good communication. Thanks for sharing your beautiful insight about the importance of communication. I wish you continue to write articles and personal experience that can help other people issues about marriage.

    • admin

      I have been in a couple toxic relationships where there were very harmful words used toward me and it broke me at the time because I really didn’t understand how someone can use them words toward me when they claim they love me…it took me awhile to come to an understanding but I finally did and I realize they were the ones’ with the real issue on the inside not myself…in marriage respect and communication is extremely important, if they don’t have I am hoping this website can help them.

  • chrisJ

    whoa, sounds like a bad day! I’m so sorry you two had to go through that! I hope it only made you two stronger. There is nothing better then picking up the communication were it fell down!  This site could be a really helpful place for him. Thank you for such a great post.

  • Phil

    I’m very sorry to hear about the communication difficulties you had with your partner, the examples of which you give are just all too common. So it makes sense to want to offer solutions to these problems. 

    It does happen sometimes to me too to have difficulties communicating with my partner, but I can see your website being useful for several of my friends, so I want to share your tips along. Thanks!

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