The routines of daily life and the attendant stresses and strains often result in couples losing contact. They believe they know all there is to know about one another and simply stop listening and talking to each other; intimacy dwindles away.
Intimacy, which is aided by good communication, can be created in simple ways. Here are some basics:
- My clients often assume that their partner can read their mind and this assumption leads to a lot of miscommunications and arguments. How would your relationship be different if you can tell your partner what’s on your mind: what you’d like, how you’re feeling, what’s going on with you, what you hope for? Would it improve if you, in turn, frequently and regularly ask them about their lives and take an interest in their thoughts and ideas? This communication can be done in passing – it doesn’t have to be a big “lets talk” thing.
- If you have a criticism can you make it constructively (without attacking or demoralising your partner) and in such a way that you also give a recommendation of what you would like instead? If you can do this your partner is less likely to feel defensive and “got at” and therefore has the opportunity and space to consider your criticism and decide how to respond to it.
- Communication through small kindnesses, encouragements and acknowledgements contribute to a feeling of being in a partnership and being appreciated. And sometimes couples find that sharing a vision of what they want for themselves, each other and their families also creates a shared feeling of intimacy.
Intimacy has different meanings for different couples but most discover that communicating in this way makes a huge difference to their relationship and arguments lessen, or become less influential. The positive effects can ripple outwards benefiting a couple’s wider relationships with family, friends and colleagues.
Think back: it’s more than likely that you’ve communicated like this before, to some extent, particularly when you first got together, so there’s no reason why you can’t do it again. The couples I work with often come to see me when their relationship is in crisis mode and often believe that it is beyond repair. Not true! Those who really do want to hold on to the relationship and move forward together work on the particular aspects that are causing their problems – invariably improving their communication is part of this. And slowly things change for the better. I’ve seen it happen many times and it’s heartening to watch the changes work and the relationship improve.