Friday, May 9, 2014

Relationship Post #1: Communication

After I started this series, I realized what I had to say fell into two categories:  1) the art and science of dating, and 2) once the dating works out well, how to have success in relationships.  This is a post in the latter category.  I'll start with a story:

This girl dated a guy once who told her that she was one of the "most reasonable" girls he had ever dated.  She took that as a compliment and wore the title like a badge of honor:  she wasn't some needy, whiny, high-maintenance nut, no sir!  She was Reasonable!

She was also an idiot.

Because she was so eager to be "reasonable," she hid her insecurities, she didn't speak up when things bothered her, and she didn't fight for things she wanted to fight for.  What she thought was this great, low-maintenance relationship was kind of an unhealthy, unhappy mess and a complete failure to communicate.

First of all, I want to make a few things clear:  speaking your mind, having insecurities, and wanting the things that you want don't make you "high-maintenance."  They make you human.  And anyone who thinks you're being "unreasonable" for having and voicing legitimate concerns about your relationship should probably go to Relationship Summer School.  They'll have plenty of free time to do so, on account of you dumping them.  A relationship where one partner feels that they have to hide or conform or be dishonest isn't a real relationship at all--one of you is unhappy and the other is happy with something that isn't real.

Now let's talk about communicating in relationships.  I'll start with a stupid graphic with arbitrary shapes and colors to illustrate the point I'm going to make.

My Power Point skillz are off the hizzy, yo.

Good relationship communication in relationships requires two things:  Trust and Compassion.  Let's talk about Trust first:  this can be interpreted a few different ways.  It can mean "I know I can tell you this thing and it won't change the way you feel about me or this relationship."  It can also mean "I trust you with this sensitive information about my life and know you won't tell anyone about it."  Regardless, communicating things, especially big relationship-y things, requires a lot of trust.

On the other end of the communication interaction is Compassion.  This means that when your partner tells you something big or voices some concern, you 1) remember that you love them, 2) don't immediately judge, laugh at, dismiss, or disparage them, and 3) listen to them and try to see where they're coming from.  Remember that their telling you this is a sign that they trust you.  Don't try to make them change their way of thinking or make them feel like their concerns are invalid.  Just listen.  Listen and love.

I'm not saying this is easy.  To a lot of people, it doesn't come naturally.  It certainly doesn't to me; I'm inherently shy and non-confrontational and a good chunk of my DNA sucks at communicating.  But it does come.

I unfortunately have nothing snarky or clever with which to end this post, which is weird for me because that's usually where I go right after being sentimental...probably why I suck at communication.  But good luck to you all.


  1. My hubs and I saw a marriage counselor before we were married. (weird a little I know, but SO worth it) The one thing he told us that I LOVED was this: Before you get married/ get into a serious relationship, your brain is your own. You can be concerned with what you want, what works for you, what makes YOU happy. After you get married/ get into a serious relationship, you must take half your brain and, figuratively, give it to your spouse. Now half your brain is concerned with what works for them, what they want, what makes THEM happy, and your whole brain together is concerned with what do WE want, what works for US, what will make US happy. It was a different way of thinking for me. I grew up with a very different ideology, so this was truly ground breaking for me. It has worked well for us. It keeps me from being a pushover (which I have a tendency to do) and helps me to know how to compromise when that is necessary. Anyway, Just wanted to share. Thanks for this.