It happens in the best of marriages because communication is such a volatile thing. One minute your think your marriage is strong and immune to confusion and conflict. The next, and quite unexpectedly, you find yourselves in communication collapse and wonder why nothing seems to be going right.
Communication is key in any relationship and quite often, lines of communication get bit blurred. Your marriage will suffer when those lines become blurred and then ignored.
Two nights ago, my spouse took me by surprise. He told me something that really hurt my feelings. I automatically went on the defensive and lashed out at him.
Silly as the argument was, it seemed that something much deeper had been simmering away in the background.
The dreaded lost car keys scenario. I couldn’t find them anywhere. After turning the house upside down, I asked my spouse if he had perhaps seen them. The answer I got was “Why don’t you open your eyes and organize yourself a bit better?” Needless to say, he didn’t get up to help in the search.
As I am an organised person – walking the dog, cooking the dinner, doing the general household chores, amongst other things – this comment rankled me. The house is always keep warm, inviting and tidy and it takes time to keep it that way. My spouse’s comment “Organise yourself a bit better” really hurt.
It took me a little while to realise that this was not about the keys. What I really needed was my efforts to be recognised.
My spouse had misinterpreted my efforts and I assume he was ungrateful. This communication collapse had many potential danger areas.
Communication, communication, communication. I needed my spouse to help me out and that didn’t happen. Obviously, we both need to be more open with our feelings and how we interpret one another’s contribution to the marriage.
We have to remind ourselves that marriage is not a competition, even if at times it feels like it.
Avoid the Adversity
People will always act out if they feel stressed or guilty. It’s no different with your spouse. Stress and guilt can become the cause of communication collapse.
Overcoming these barriers means recognizing them and talking about them before they get out of hand. Try and do this as a couple or ask a friend to listen to the way you interact with one another and get their feedback.
Fortunately, we managed to avoid complete communication collapse. The ‘key incident’ made us realise how quickly little things can become big things and how we can avoid unnecessary adversity.
I know my spouses comments wouldn’t hurt so much if there wasn’t such great love between us. It was certainly a good reminder to us both.
You can be so wrapped up in your own emotions that you forget what your partner might be thinking or feeling.
You also need to entertain the possibility that you are misinterpreting each other. Talking about even the smallest niggles, exposes where the miscommunication starts and lets the healing begin.