Do you know couples that communicated well when they were dating but all of a sudden stop talking a few years into the marriage? Have you ever wondered what leads to these communication problems? One of the key reasons might surprise you.

At the beginning of most relationships, any problems a couple face are typically outside the relationship.  It could be work bothering either of them, or maybe even family and friends causing the grievance. At that stage of their relationship, they spend most of their time talking about each other. Since they are still in the infatuation stage of their relationship and are only interested in meeting each other’s emotional needs, they spend a lot of time talking about much they love and care for each other, as they look forward to spending their lives together meeting each others needs forever.

You might start noticing the cracks in their relationship once wedding planning is in full gear. At this stage, they might now be discussing the difficult details of the wedding together. They are starting to pull their financial resources together and have probably started noticing things like; how they have different spending habits, how they manage family and friends expectations differently and things of that nature. In an attempt to not upset their spouse, they hide their true feelings regarding these newly noticed habits that their spouse possesses. At this time though, they have probably started talking less to and about each other, which is certainly not helpful for the health of their relationship.

The real remedy for this situation is for couples to learn how to discuss their problems, whether difficult or sensitive. The earlier they start this practice, the better. Couples actually do their relationships a disservice when they have things about their spouse they do not like, but want to “spare their feelings” or avoid the sensitive nature of the issue. Rather than allowing the inability to discuss things escalate to a total breakdown in communication, couples should find ways to bring these issues up by providing their partner with a path to the proposed solutions.

For example, if a husband would like his wife to lose some weight both for appearance and health reasons, he probably considers this a difficult conversation to have and will most likely avoid it. The problem is, his pent up frustration about this issue will manifest itself in other ways. He will probably not talk to her as much. He will probably not be as affectionate towards her. He will also probably not compliment her for doing other things well. Even things that are not related to her physical appearance; such as how she takes care of the kids or anything else she’s doing that he appreciates.

Communication typically comes to a halt at this stage.

Instead of allowing things to get into a free fall of negativity, he needs to find a way to tell her about his concerns. He can suggest that they both go to the gym together! He can also go on a diet with her. In essence, he will be showing her love if he makes the same sacrifices she needs to make in order to get in shape. This opens up the doors to doing more things together (Remember? More quality time?), which opens up opportunities for conversation and other positive interactions. This also becomes a step towards them rebuilding their friendship and reducing the risk of affairs.

When you are in a marriage relationship you have every right to say – ‘here are the conditions that will make it easy for me to give you what you want from me, and I’m willing to work with you to get you there.’ So if a man’s wife is putting on weight, he needs to be able to say to her “My dear, I really appreciate everything you do and how well you take care of me and the kids. And you know I will always love you for who you are not because of how you look, but I’d really appreciate if you could get in better shape. The kids and I will love to have you around for a long time. Why don’t we join a gym together? I know I’m busy but I’ll make the time to work out with you to help you get in better shape, because this is important to me. This will also help us spend even more time together, and you know I love spending time with you.”

(Please notice I embedded the negative message around some positive messages, otherwise known as the sandwich approach).

I’ll like to share a personal experience. My husband has been in shape most of his life because he has always played sports. I on the other hand, have always been blessed with my dad’s genes. I always used to unknowingly brag to my husband about how I’ll always be slim even though I didn’t exercise and this unbeknownst to me, always infuriated him! Even though it was not my intent, my husband eventually began to feel I was arrogant, which was not a trait he appreciated in a wife. Any time we would have a conversation about weight, my husband would shut down completely and not want to talk about it. He would become distant. This also affected his ability to compliment me, when I looked nice. And as woman, if your husband is not complimenting you when you look nice, there is a problem!

Eventually I found out how he felt, thankfully before there was any major damage to our relationship. He made me realize that I used to come across as arrogant, not appreciating the genetic gifts God had given me. This helped me modify my speech, when talking about my weight. Ironically, as the years went by, gravity kicked in and off to the gym I went! This actually turned out for the best, as going to the gym became time for us to spend together. Catch my drift?

I’m zeroing in on the weight example because it is a major issue in a lot of relationships and people sometimes do not realize it leads to a breakdown in communication with their spouse. We all gain weight – as we get older, have kids etc. That is a reality. The other reality is that for some people, this is a major deciding factor when it comes to showing any sort of affection in a relationship. For men, sex is a motivating factor for engaging in deep intimate conversations with their wives. Most men do it because they know women want to talk intimately, so if they give that to her, she just might give them their own emotional need…sex.

For women, if they are no longer attracted to their spouse they also avoid anything that might stimulate him just so they do not have sex.  So they stop talking. This also includes being emotionally unavailable to him or criticizing him a lot, just so he can get defensive and shut down as well.

I believe this can all be resolved with open and honest communication. The earlier in your relationship you start practicing this, the better off in the long term. We are in relationships because of an emotional need our partners help us meet. We are also in relationships because we want to help our partners meet an emotional need they have. Let us not deny each other this because we are afraid to have the difficult conversations.

Here’s to letting it ALL hang out,

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About ZeeZee

ZeeZee is a certified Relationship and Marriage Coach who believes her purpose in life is to equip couples with the right tools for a successful relationship. Through her website and YouTube channel she shares practical tips and principles that help couples understand the inner workings of a healthy marriage.