Why is Communication So Hard?

Couple pictured wondering, "Why is communication so hard!?"

Often when people call for counseling and I ask them what is the matter, most of the time I hear, “We just can’t communicate.”

This is a catch all phrase that means we don’t understand each other and it is hard on both of us. I get this, especially since I have been working with couples for 20 plus years.

I know that there is a person who feels very deeply about life and another person who thinks almost exclusively in their head. I have seen this in every couple I have ever counseled.

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When There is a Misunderstanding

When there is a misunderstanding we may both feel confused and lost.

A misunderstanding can happen so easily. One partner says something the other believes it was a slight and gets offended and then there is a disagreement.

But what really happened was someone saying something that the other person didn’t quite understand and the receiver made it into something that it wasn’t.

Does this sound like something that happens in your relationship? Well, it happened in mine.

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When a Couple Buys a Bed

I had been working with this couple for a while. The two people love each other, but when they get into a disagreement it is hard for them to connect back with each other after.

Does this sound familiar? This is what happens with all couples. There is a misunderstanding or miscommunication and two people who love each other get their feelings hurt and then they don’t know how to make it better.

This is common among couples. So, learning what to do when you get your feelings hurt is paramount to solving this issue. Each person has to figure out what they do and how to calm themselves in order to talk with their partner and get them to understand what happened to them.

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How to Handle a Stonewalling Husband or Wife

How to Deal with a Stonewalling Husband or Wife

Sometimes in relationships we find ourselves in certain patterns. Let’s say you are very aware of what is not working well in the relationship and you let your partner know when something isn’t right. Now add to this how your partner doesn’t even respond or just seems to not be listening no matter how hard and forceful you are telling them.

This is unfortunately common, and it often happens with men and women. Women are sometimes better at describing what is making them uncomfortable. Maybe we learned this from our verbal mothers. Men on the other hand are not as skilled, maybe because they learned from dads who didn’t say much.

Whatever contributed to how we grew up, we still carry patterns from our youth. When those patterns conflict with our partner’s, we have problems. Let’s look at a couple I know.

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Remember to Take Care of Yourself in Your Relationship

Take Care of Yourself

When we love another person we want the relationship to work and to last and to be perfect. This is how all couples begin. But some people want a relationship so badly they will do anything for their mate. And this leaves some of us feeling as if we have lost ourselves.

It’s something many couples face. And there’s a good reason as to why this happens. We love our person and we want them to be happy. Of course we want our mate to be happy. So why wouldn’t we just think about what they would like and how to make their life better?

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My Husband Doesn’t Understand Me! What Do I Do!?

My husband doesn't understand me! Or perhaps your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, or partner isn't getting you Don't worry, there's hope!

“My husband doesn’t understand me. I get so frustrated when I try to explain myself. I get so fed up when this situation occurs, I just want to scream!” This happens to husbands, wives, and partners of all sorts.

And yes, it is a problem, and it’s one that everyone who has ever loved another experiences. It is pervasive and has been in every relationship since the beginning of time.

If I could solve this problem we might see every couple staying together. You see, being understood is the core of feeling connected to our special person. When our husband, wife or partner does not understand what we are trying to communicate to them we are left struggling alone, and that is a feeling that for many of us is intolerable.

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Why Feeling Misunderstood Upsets Us

Why Feeling Misunderstood Upsets Us

The most satisfying feeling for two people to share is experiencing a connection with their partner, the person they love. To know you are understood by them and to feel closeness that develops out of this connection is a place all humans long for. It is what reminds us of our togetherness, and it is way we all feel love.

Every one feels this when it’s happening, and we feel it distinctly when it’s cut off and is not available to us. All of us have felt a cold shoulder from someone we wanted to be with. Every one of us has been sad because we were not understood by our mate. This is the pain of being in love with our special person. This is often the key issue that keeps people apart.

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How Problems Begin in a Relationship

As a couples counselor I’m sometimes asked if there are common themes among the couples I treat.  I usually answer this question with a no because I believe every individual is unique, and that difference contributes to the special qualities of each couple.  No two couples are the same.

But lately I’ve begun to realize that couples with difficulties do share a common theme.  They all experience some sort of misunderstanding.  When people don’t feel understood they can feel left out.  Sometimes they get angry or experience isolation from their partner.  And if these misunderstandings just get swept under the rug without receiving appropriate attention, a couple may be headed toward difficulty.  Unresolved misunderstandings are the beginning signs that a relationship could use some help.

You might be saying to yourself, it can’t be that simple.  Misunderstandings can’t be the culprit alone, right?  You are right, it’s not just the misunderstandings, it’s what follows.  When one person feels like the other person did not understand or “get” them, they feel like they were not seen by their mate.  They feel like their partner who is supposed to know them doesn’t understand them.  This is the beginning of feeling misunderstood by the person who is your partner.  If the one who feels misunderstood continues to try and explain and this still doesn’t work, hurt feelings may result.  If those hurt feelings don’t get attention and understanding, they can build into something harder, like anger or resentment.

Feeling understood by your partner is not only essential for your relationship, it’s necessary for you as a person to feel good in the world.  Humans are hardwired to connect to other humans.  When we reach out and we can’t get that connection we feel let down, and sad.  This can even lead to withdrawal.

Maybe you’ve noticed your partner withdrawing after a disagreement.  He or she may be feeling misunderstood, and that can lead to feelings of loneliness and a belief that you are unlovable.  Not every disagreement will evoke these emotions, but chances are if you and your partner spend a lot of time misunderstanding each other it’s likely both of you feel pretty lousy about yourself and your relationship.   You might even feel angry at your mate because you believe he or she is supposed to “get” you no matter what.  And if your partner doesn’t get you, you might tell yourself it’s because they are just too stubborn to care.  Those thoughts lead to even more separation between two people.

Sometimes in relationships when couples aren’t getting what they need from their partners they can start to blame the other.  “It’s his fault.”  “It’s her fault.”  “He makes me feel…”  “She always complains that I…”  What drives the complaint is how we feel.  If those feelings had words they might sound like, “I’m unhappy here.  I wish you could just understand me.”

Some couples go years without ever feeling understood by their partner.  If this is your life it may mean you are essentially living alone inside yourself, without having an ally or best friend to share your thoughts and feelings with.  Imagine a relationship where you always feel understood, and you could share your thoughts and feelings with your best friend who wanted to share them. Now that makes a great relationship.  I believe everyone can learn new skills to communicate with their partner.  Like learning how to listen to the other person and how to ask for what you need, essential tools to avoid misunderstandings.

Send your comments to linda@lindanusbaum.com

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