Continuing with rating your scores on the Relationship Wheel, today we are considering the quality of your couple communication, and how that is so not the same as being good talkers. So where would you rate yours on a scale of 0 – 10?
Communication is often considered to be the most important relating skill. Be that as it may, it is most definitely one of the most important. It is the vehicle by which we understand our partner and also make ourselves understood… or not 🙁
It’s not just about talking
It is also about connecting, making yourself understood, and understanding your partner. That means you need to listen as well as talk. And it is not just about the words you or your partner say, it’s also about the feelings behind the words.
I see couples who have real difficulty expressing themselves to each other. Often it is the case that when they met and were attracted to each other, they spent a lot of time talking and exchanging history and information with each other about their families, their work, previous relationships and holidays etc.. they didn’t realise that exchanging information is not a particularly deep level of communication.Then they decided to marry and set up home together and perhaps start a family; lots to talk about there, but several years down the line when all these events are over, they realise, they have nothing to say to each other. In fact, they may never have communicated in any depth or even had a real conversation.
Levels of communication
There are several levels of communication. For example the kind of chit chat you might exchange with strangers or casual acquaintances as you go about your day to day business.
Then there is logistics, the exchange of information such as how old you are, where you were born or work, what time dinner will be ready etc. Many couples, like the couple mentioned above, operate on this level most of the time. Even planning a wedding can be done by just exchanging information about preferences without ever discussing what marriage actually means to you or how you feel about it.
Moving to a somewhat deeper level is a sharing of your ideas which are usually personal and involve some degree of disclosure of what matters to you and perhaps a visioning of the future. If your partner shares your ideas, this can form connection and stimulation, particularly if it is something you feel passionate about. But this level of communication can be had with a friend or housemate.
The difference between a lover and a friend is intimacy, and that means being able to share your feelings at a level that involves some degree of feeling vulnerable. This involves a willingness to be open and emotionally honest and transparent, without secrets or too much self consciousness. Once again, this level of communication can be achieved between really good friends, so consider what makes you and your partner’s communication better than that?
Not easy but necessary
Not everyone finds this easy, as it requires self esteem, self acceptance and feeing comfortable in your own skin. Many people have a history of being put down, rejected or ridiculed, and it can feel very threatening for them to let down their defences and allow themselves to be vulnerable. What they do not know is that the pain of the lack of intimacy in their relationship and perhaps breaking down, is often worse than the discomfort of feeling vulnerable.
It is the level at which many people get stuck and this is where Coaching can help you to move forward beyond your current comfort zone, but it is well worth it for the difference it can make to your whole family.
Those of you who drive a car will know what a useful skill that is, and how much easier it makes life. But it took time, patience, will, money and practice to become a competent driver. Equally, learning communication and other relating skills can transform your relationships and requires the same level of commitment.
Finally we have a level of peak rapport and attunement. This rarely develops without a couple agreeing consciously to engage in this level of communication which can be wordless.
I intend to write Communication Part 2 which will focus on how to build up to this level of communication and rapport.
So what level is your relationship at, and what does it score? Look out for Communication Part 2 🙂