Communication in Relationships: Myths & Misconceptions
Communication is the cornerstone of any relationship, so it's no surprise that when communication begins to fail, a relationship can struggle. Unfortunately, fixing misunderstandings can be a difficult task, because we have to combat the seemingly endless list of communication myths and misconceptions.
Luckily, with a little research, we can easily find the truth to repair communication skills.
Myth: I shouldn't have to work on communication.
Reality: This myth needs to be tackled first because it is so damaging to relationships.
Let's be clear: Communication is a skill that all of us can learn and aspire to improve. The more we practice and better our communication skills, the easier it will be to understand our partner's needs and avoid any confusion.
Most of us learned our communication skills from our parents, who learned their skills from their parents. If your parents are poor communicators, you may be, too. Nobody is born with this mastery. The good news is that communicating with your partner is easier if you learn to ask questions. And most important of all: listen.
Myth: Conflict is a sign of a bad relationship.
Reality: This myth is based on the concept that constant bickering between partners is a bad sign. Over time, however, this has morphed into a theory that conflict is a sign of two incompatible people, even though the reality is that conflict can be healthy and shows that a couple is trying to build a life together.
Think about your past and how you came to be the person you are today. Now think about your partner's past. You are two people with unique childhoods and ideals about how to live your lives. Now you're trying to cram two sets of values into one life.
Conflict is natural. It's when you give up on fighting that you should be concerned. Soothing each other after a fight is important, and also may be indicative of relationship success.
Myth: All conflicts can be resolved.
Reality: The truth is that sometimes, despite a genuine desire to solve every issue, we reach a point where there is a conflict so great that it can't be straightened out. When this happens, we need to make a choice: We either accept our differences and move forward or we separate.
When we reach an impasse in a conflict, it can seem like we've failed, and many couples consider ending their relationship at this point. However, this conflict could be a sign of a deeper issue. When we can't accept a personality trait or a belief held by our partner, this could mean we are harboring resentment about past issues.
Instead of calling it quits, this might be the perfect time to seek help from a licensed professional therapist.
Myth: Talking about the past makes things worse.
Reality: What happens in the past is done, and once you apologize, you can move forward, right?
The answer: not always.
Just because you have moved on from a conflict doesn't mean your partner has found closure. In fact, your conflict may be traced to repressed anger from an unresolved issue that still needs closure through better communication.
If you fight with your partner and rarely find closure, both of you may be carrying repressed anger, the type of exasperation that can appear at the most inconvenient times, and each of you may find yourself expressing irrational ire in response to trivial issues.
The good news is taking the time to resolve your past issues can help to heal your relationship and learn valuable communication skills to prevent future conflict.
Myth: Communication solves everything.
Reality: Communication is great. When we hear our partner's concerns and learn from them, we can strengthen our bond and move forward with a deeper understanding of our expectations and goals.
Unfortunately, when we communicate, we don't always listen. We may think we know what our partner wants, but we often listen to respond instead of listen to understand. Such ill-framed listening can lead to wrong assumptions and further miscommunication.
Unfortunately, when we actually listen to our partner, we might not like the truths we hear. It's difficult to accept that we've hurt someone's feelings, behaved poorly or done something wrong. We always want to believe we're the victim in any conflict, but the truth is that we may be just as guilty in any conflict we start with our partner.
It may be difficult, but hearing the truth helps us grow.
The one hard-and-fast truth in the sea of communication myths and misconceptions is that communication can be learned. Taking the time to work on communicating effectively with your partner can help you overcome many of the worst relationship conflicts.