Often, when couples ask me for help with the communication in their relationships, they tend to want answers to the bigger issues; how to resolve conflict compassionately, how to say how they feel without upsetting each-other, how to understand the underlying reasons for the conflict between them, how to express things that are bothering them to each other when they struggle to understand it themselves.
All of these issues are completely valid and extremely important. And I help couples every day with all of these issues.
However, sometimes what some couples don’t realise is the importance of simple, day to day communication. The sharing of new information.
Things like how your day at work was, the fact that you have a dentist appointment next week, the fact that you received the credit card bill and are wondering how to budget more effectively. The family party you are planning to attend next month.
It might seem like small talk to you, or irrelevant or uninteresting. But I have lost count of the number of couples who complain that they simply don’t know what is going on for each other. All of these small things on your radar will be impacting your mood on some level.
You might think that you are managing your work stress really well, leaving it at work and not bringing it home. But your partner might be noticing subtle changes in you – perhaps you are a little more distracted than normal, or a little more snappy than you were last week. Or you might think that your partner is uninterested in hearing about the family “politics” which are making planning that function difficult, but if you are worrying about it, they just might notice your restless sleep at night.
We all have changes in mood throughout the day, week, month, and we can’t expect to keep our emotions on an even keel all the time, and nor should we have to. The difficulty comes when we don’t communicate the small things which affect us to each-other.
If we notice the change in our partner’s mood, but don’t understand the reasons, the assumptions creep in. We tend to use our imagination to read between the lines and work it out. Many of us then start to assume their mood change has something to do with us. Once the imagination starts going, we can create all sorts of potential scenarios. And the longer it goes on for, the worse it can be. The problem with assumptions is that they are often wrong, because we come at them from our own reality, and not our partner’s.
So what might have been an understanding that your partner has a project deadline at work which has made them a little more tense throughout the week or month, and leads to them sometimes forgetting to give you a kiss goodbye in the mornings, can become a general concern about whether they are upset with you about something, or angry, or even seeing someone else!
Nature is dependent on the most subtle of communication to instigate enormous changes. Air pressure, soil nutrients, atmosphere, temperature, moisture, light – all of these small components need to be working together constantly for a plant to grow . Your relationship is no different. The small things do matter.
So if you find yourself assuming what is going on for your partner – stop assuming and simply ASK them what is going on. And make sure you both take time every day to exchange new information, even if you think it is irrelevant – you might be surprised!
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Take care for now!