Many couples who have been married for a while, may someday realize that they hardly ever talk to each other anymore. While in the early days of a marriage, partners are interested in discovering each other – their likes, dislikes, dreams and anxieties – over time, they get so involved in kids, work schedules and domestic responsibilities, that they can’t remember the last time they had a meaningful conversation.
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A dangerous fall-out of such a situation may be that both partners begin to drift away from each other, eventually leading to the end of their marriage. So if you find your partner too caught up in the daily routine to lend you an ear, or purposely giving you the silent treatment, use the following ways to lead him or her to open up to you.
Choose the right time to talk to your partner
You may be anxious for your partner to communicate his or her thoughts to you, but this does not mean that you go and launch a verbal tirade as soon as he or she gets home. It is possible that your partner had a hard day at work, is pre-occupied with family issues or is actually tired. If you choose such a time to start a conversation, you may not get the desired response and worse, your partner may simply switch off. Open up a conversation after your partner has had a shower and dinner and appears to be in a more relaxed frame of mind.
Take care how you talk to your partner
The secret to effective communication with your partner is an equable exchange of thoughts and feelings. To bring this about, ensure that you do not launch into a conversation with an accusing tone. Stay away from sentences starting with a capital ‘You’, for instance, “YOU do not listen to me anymore”. Rather give voice to your perception like, “I would feel much more loved if we could just talk to each other now and then”. Again avoid generalizing like “You ALWAYS avoid me when I want to talk” or “You NEVER want to listen to what I have to say”. Words like these will only make your partner defensive and will not get the conversation anywhere.
Focus on the here and now
While your grievances may be building up over time, it is best to avoid dragging up the past. The intention is to communicate present thoughts and feelings with your partner and not to begin a blame game which goes back to the time you met. Keep the job of sorting out past issues for another time after you have already established an effective communication with your partner.
Many of us are bad at putting feelings into appropriate words, while some of us just don’t want to do so. In such situations, it helps to use written notes to get one’s thoughts or feelings across. Tuck in a note in your husband’s lunch box or pin one on your wife’s pillow while she is still asleep. Writing gives a person more time to think over what he or she wants to say and thus avoid a hasty response. Moreover, if at the first instance, you feel that the words do not convey exactly what you want, you can easily rewrite the note. Try out this way of communicating and you might find a more understanding listener when you finally face your partner.
Show interest in the other person
Effective communication is not just about you getting your thoughts and feelings across. It also means that you try and understand what your partner may be feeling and thinking as well. Being a martyr and always complaining about how hard things are for you could either lead to defensiveness or more silence from your partner. So involve your partner in the conversation – ask how was his day or what did she do on her evening out. Showing an interest in your partner’s thoughts and activities will make it easier for them to open up.
Be firm if need be
If you find that despite repeated efforts, your partner refuses to open up, it may be time to take a more active approach. Find out when your partner is using work pressures or family issues to shut you out. Switch off the TV or turn down the volume of the music system if your partner is using these to avoid a conversation. State clearly but calmly that you need to be heard and that you deserve some of your partner’s time. However be careful not to get into a shouting match or it will provide your partner yet another excuse to walk away.
Use non-verbal means of communication
Effective communication between partners need not be confined to conversations. Make use of non-verbal cues to tell your partner how much you love him or her. Giving your husband a bear hug when he comes back from work or sending a bunch of roses to your wife at her office, will speak volumes about your love and appreciation. Also look for small ways in which you can help your partner. Do the laundry over the weekend or pick up the kids when your partner is supposed to do so. These acts of responsibility will not only lighten the burden of domestic chores on your partner and thus make it easier for her to give her attention to you but will also show your partner that you are interested in meaningful give and take and not just empty words.
Be patient and understanding
Be prepared to give your partner time to open up. Understand that he or she needs to feel emotionally secure enough to lay out their thoughts and feelings before you. The fears of looking silly or being rebuffed are the biggest reasons why people refuse to open up. Reassure your partner that this will not happen and only then will they feel secure enough to talk to you.
Lack of communication
Lack of communication often leads to a couple moving apart, when they may otherwise be perfectly suited to one another. Overwhelming work pressures or family responsibilities may further widen the distance, till there is nothing left in the marriage. More is the pity, since unlike adultery or a financial crisis, communication difficulties can easily be resolved. But remember to make patience and affection your guiding principles and you will surely be able to talk and love, like a couple again.