Ask a typical group of couples what they feel would help their marriages and the usual response is communication. Pry further as to what communication means to them and answers vary:
“Having any communication would be a nice change.”
“Really listening to each other.” (Usually this translates, “That jerk doesn’t hear a word I say.”
“A conversation that doesn’t turn into a fight.”
The list goes on. Feel free mentally to insert your own description here, if you wish. What these people refer to as communication actually means something deeper. According to Miriam-Webster communication is, “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.” Two people thrashing each other with angry and bitter words are communicating. However, that communication probably damages the relationship rather than making it better. When most people say that they need better communication, what they really mean is that they need a way to understand and to be understood without fear, rejection, or conflict.
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In The Marriage Clinic, John Gottman, PhD, examines various research about why people divorce. He concludes, ““In summarizing these research projects, ‘feeling unloved’ was the most commonly cited reason for wanting a divorce (67% of women)…and sensitivity to being belittled (59% men and women)…We must conclude that most marriages end…[as] the result of people…not feeling liked, loved, and respected.”