Silence is a Relationship Killer

silent

Silence is a Relationship Killer

Sometimes when something is wrong in a relationship one or both people will practice bouts of prolonged silence. This isn’t a moment of reflection or a collecting of thoughts. This is a wall put up. It speaks to an absence of emotional and verbal intimacy. The truth is, prolonged silences propagated by a strong emotion is a relationship killer. It speaks to an intense feeling just below the surface. Bottling feelings up inside does not relieve them. They tend to build like steam building inside a furnace. Sooner or later it’s going to explode. And the results will be ugly.

It’s better to communicate directly. Take some time to sort out your thoughts. Ask your partner for a particular time when you are calmer to discuss the issue. Talking about the issue with your partner will actually make you feel better, not cause you to act out. Another problem with silence is that it is a form of control or coercion. We usually think about loud, yelling people as controlling and coercive. But silence does the job just as thoroughly. It can even be seen as a form of bullying. Even though they aren’t being physically hurt you are controlling them through your silence. Instead of talking to them, explaining to them and persuading them of your point of view, in a respectful manner, you are asking for obedience and apologies merely by clamming up.

Sometimes silence is used for a particular offense. The aggrieved party then plays a film out in their head with them as the lead role and their lover doing and saying everything they want to make it right. They wait for their beloved to say and do these very things. And when the lover has no idea what they want, they get very agitated. This isn’t fair. No one is a mind reader. And if you respect the person you are going out with, you need to open up and talk about what is troubling you. At other times silence can be a punishment. But the problem is that instead of making the relationship stronger it actually starts to tear it down. There is no avenue of communication. Anger, sadness and depression can set in in one or both parties.

The relationship can’t move forward until the silence is broken, either by one party opening up or the other apologizing, or kowtowing and promising to make it up. The first situation is desirable as it will get the problem solved, though it may have hurt the relationship, showing one person that the other is very high maintenance and doesn’t have good communication skills. In the second one, one party is dominating the other. Sooner or later the dominated party will feel that they are being abused and seek greener pastures. Neither speaks well to the relationship. So speak up. Communicate. And if you are with someone that uses silence against you, evaluate if you want to stay with them at all. For more advice read, Why Can’t You Read My Mind?-Overcoming the 9 Toxic Thought Patterns that Get In the Way of a Loving Relationship by Jeffrey Bernstein, Ph.D. and Susan Magee.

Good Relationship Practices your Friends are doing that You Aren’t

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Good Relationship Practices your Friends are doing that You Aren’t

Do you have wacky friends who are in happy, healthy relationships while you, the clear headed, sophisticated one are still single? What’s the deal with that? Even though you may have advantages over your wacky friends in some areas, your friends may be taking part in good relationship practices that you aren’t doing. Here are some ideas for what they may be doing that you’ve overlooked. See if these can’t help launch your love life, or bring it to the next level. Have you ever gone on a great date where you laughed, had fun, but then afterward forgot about it? You had your mind on another guy, an ex-boyfriend you want to get back together with, or someone who’s playing games. But in the interim you have missed an opportunity to get to know a great guy, someone who was interested in you for who you are. So try and forget the guy who plays games, or who you can’t have. The fact that you can’t have him makes you want him more, realize that.

Instead, embrace opportunities with great guys who are available to you. How much of a chance do you give each guy? Some friends insist you give a guy three dates before you decide whether you like him, or want to pursue a relationship. There is a lot of pressure to perform and show your best self on a date. Are you really getting to know this person? Also, it’s hard to really make up your mind about someone. If you take it slow and get to know them better, you will know if there are relationship possibilities. It will become more apparent to you.

Some of your friends know to hold off on talking about future plans with someone new they are dating. The reason is that some guys scare easily. They want to let things progress naturally. But after one or two months if she makes it seem that she has expectations he may close up, act more cautiously around her, or even pull away. Instead, let it be his idea for the first getaway, couple’s vacation or road trip. Some women go head over heels for a guy and right away want to spend every waking moment with him, or talking with him on the phone. But one of your friends is smart about this. She wants to make the relationship last. So she doesn’t mind if they don’t talk or see each other for a day or two. In fact, absence makes the heart grow fonder. In the frenzy to be together all the time the relationship may fizzle as you will run out of stuff to talk about. But a little break can renew things and give your conversation level a little boost. It also shows that neither party is needy and in fact have their own lives to attend to, very healthy for any relationship.

Your friends know not to cross a guy off their list if you two have a little boredom at times. All couples hit a lag in conversation, spend a night at home watching the tube, or spend an hour trying to figure out which restaurant they want to go to. Instead, hang on. This is normal. In fact, the sign of a great relationship is when silence can occur comfortably. But your relationship savvy friends already know that. For more advice read, What Men Want: The Essential Guide on How to Attract Men… and Keep Them! By James Taylor.

Dealing with Communication Problems in your Relationship

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Dealing with Communication Problems in your Relationship

Every relationship has its challenges. Just like most other things in life there are hills and valleys, good times and difficult ones. You have to endure the challenges in order to make it to the blissful episodes. How you respond to those challenges will determine if you stay together and make it to the next level or get torn apart. But like any industry, science or any enterprise, it’s good to anticipate what trends, problems or issues might be coming down the pike in order to preempt problems before they occur. One particular problem lots of couples run into are communication problems. People generally communicate in different ways about their inner most life, needs, desires and emotional states. We all have nuances in how we communicate that are determined by the household we grew up in, how we were raised, our social and dating life growing up and the experiences we had. We need to be able to hear our partner through how they communicate, and help our partner understand us, our point of view and how we communicate. So how do you best deal with communication problems in a relationship?

Any relationship problem you may be having starts with communication problems. The first thing to do is set up a good time and day to have a marriage meeting. You may want to do these periodically or merely check in with your significant other from time to time to make sure that things are okay. Sometimes we harbor things from our spouse but don’t know how to address them. By checking in we make it okay to express them. Once you have a good time to meet turn off all distractions. Put the children to bed, turn off the TV and cell phones. Do you two often end up shouting at one another? This could be due to frustration, not seeing eye-to-eye or one or both people growing up in families where shouting was okay. Try talking in a public place like a library or park. Practice active listening with your partner. Repeat back or sum up what they’ve said to show you understand and have it right. Validate their feelings. “I can understand why you felt that way,” whatever way it was. Sometimes just understanding and showing a little sympathy can take the bite out of an impending fight. Don’t interrupt each other, it’s rude. Learn to compromise and work together for the good of the relationship. Set up ground rules and follow them. If you are experiencing a rocky point breaking up your wedded bliss or just in your relationship and want to find out more on how to mitigate and alleviate the situation, try reading The Marriage Turnaround by family and marriage therapist Mitch Temple.

What Does It Mean to Pick Your Battles?

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What Does It Mean to Pick Your Battles?

One of the perennial pieces of advice many in long-term relationships encounter is to “Pick your battles.” This is usually practical advice. But we rarely stop to think about what it means and how it should be used. Usually, what is meant by this is, if you and your lover don’t see eye-to-eye over many topics, let the small stuff go and focus on what really matters to you. But ignoring things that bother you can also build up resentment. There is a better way. When you feel a conflict arising instead of getting caught up in negative emotions, like most of us do, stop a minute and think. Lots of arguments between couples stem from miscommunication. But when we are in the midst of screaming at each other, we have ruined half the evening or worse, before we come to realize what our lover actually meant. So when they have said something that rubs you wrong, instead of getting defensive, stop and think. Did they really mean to hurt your feelings? What might this statement mean from their perspective? Perhaps they meant something totally different than how you took it. Instead of getting angry, ask for clarification. Ask what they meant. Put it in your own words. “Did you mean that…” can help clarify the situation.

If they weren’t misunderstood, it could have been just a slip of the tongue. Consider your initial reaction. Are you quick to anger or sensitive? Is there something about this topic that is more impactful than others? Why is that? Is your partner aware about how you feel regarding this topic? If not, enlighten them. When dealing with multiple issues, keep things in perspective. First thing’s first. If you try to tackle everything at once, you’ll only get frustrated. Professional negotiators often ignore minor attacks or personal insults. They use phrases like, “I may have worded it differently, but I understand what you mean” or “That isn’t the first time I’ve heard that. It won’t be the last. But let’s focus on where we can gain ground.”  Instead of being goaded into a fight, you’ve now undermined it. You’ve solidified an adult conversation and things will move forward, unless your partner is completely immature. So how can you tell when you are entering into an argument that isn’t worth the time? When do you know when to be diplomatic and when to step confidently into a duel? Here are some questions you can ask yourself.

Is the possible breakthrough worth the damage the argument will inflict on the relationship? If you win, will it seem as important as it did at the time you were arguing? Perhaps consider letting it drop and raising the issue again somewhere down the line, when emotions aren’t so heated. If you are dating someone who is a great speaker and very persuasive, you will also want to choose your words carefully, so decide to couch the issue until you’ve looked at it from all angles. If there is a lot of baggage in this relationship, it can be a lot harder to pick your battles. Consider the issue. If the issue itself is important to you, rather than protecting your ego, it pays to address it in a mature manner with the goal of improving the relationship, rather than winning the fight for yourself. Consider this advice the next time you and your lover are heading down that road. When things get heated, try to take the pressure out of the situation. Phrases like, “I could be insulted, but I see where you are going with this” can help. This takes the negative emotions out and instead, opens up a path forward toward more constructive dialogue. If you would rather talk about it another time when one or both of you isn’t so worked up, try something like, “This isn’t the best time for me to discuss this. Let’s couch this issue until…” and give some later time or date, when you are both free to talk it over. Don’t say later and not give a proper time, or else your partner may feel as though you are brushing them off. But with time to reflect, and put together what you want to say, and allowing them the same, the conversation at the appointed time is likely to be more constructive and less adversarial. If your partner is merely trying to goad you into a fight, don’t fall for it. Say, “I’m not in the mood for fighting today. Sorry.” Later on, when they are calm, try to talk to them about the underlying issue in a way that doesn’t accuse or bruise egos. When you feel a fight coming on, don’t get stuck in how you feel. Instead, try to think of the end goal and use the right language to head toward it. It may feel like a defeat to sidestep an argument, especially when you feel you are being attacked, but if you undo the problem and solve it, the fact is you’ve won, your relationship is stronger, and the time you will spend together moving forward will be that much nicer. For more read, How to Stop Arguing: Dealing with Stress, Anger, Rejection, Conflict, Fighting and Difficult People by Amber Rain.

Are you in a Healthy Relationship?

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Are you in a Healthy Relationship?

Lots of people think they know a healthy relationship when they see one, only to be sideswiped when they are dumped, or taken aback when they are confronted with those four words that make everyone’s heart sink like a stone “We have to talk”. It’s important so that you can revel in a good relationship securely, but also so you know when to start hitting the relationship blogs to find out where you went wrong and how to fix a relationship that somewhere took a wrong turn. Some people try to model their relationships off of what is seen on TV or in other media sources. But real life relationship problems aren’t nicely wrapped up in a half an hour. Another problem according to psychologist Ilse Terblanche is that TV shows and movies don’t show all the nuances couples go through, only the emotional poles. “The media has a tendency to portray extremes – either very happy couples in comedies or very unhappy and intense couples in dramas. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle,” she says. “It is unlikely that any one couple will be miserable or screeching with laughter 100% of the time.” So are you in a healthy relationship? Take a look at these traits and see if they are part and parcel of your romantic experience.

One important factor is that in healthy relationships each person gives the other space. In the beginning, of course both partners are drawn to each other and seemingly want to spend every waking moment together. But as time goes on and emotions start to normalize it’s important that each person is an individual chasing their own dreams or career goals, spending time with their own friends, and pursuing their own hobbies or passions. Of course how much time a couple spends together or apart is up to each individual. But sometimes one or both people in a relationship are glued to their lover’s side and can’t get away. Worse scenarios are when this person jealously suspects everyone is after their lover. This should be a union of two individuals who are independent and can stand on their own two feet but feel enriched and enhanced significantly by being with and spending time with the one that has captured their heart. Another really important trait is positive emotional support. You want someone who has got your back and vice versa. Ever hear someone bragging about their boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s accomplishments? They shouldn’t overdo it, this can get annoying. But that person is not only in love but supportive. If a partner is putting the other down in front of others, this is a bad relationship. Not only is this person not supportive, just the opposite in fact, but why are they putting down the person they’ve chosen to be with? Are they highly insecure? Are they trying to manipulate this person? Also anyone who airs the couple’s dirty laundry in public is not one to stay with for long. That is not the proper venue.

Couples should spend time together doing things they enjoy. But they can also share a moment of silence in perfect peace and happiness. Of course in the very beginning awkward silence is something different. But if you are still experiencing awkward silence instead of comfortable silence as time goes on, something may be wrong. When cohabitating couples should equally share the housework and be able to work together cooperatively. Life throws a lot of things your way and if a couple can’t cooperate and work together well then they may need to seek out relationship advice from a couple’s counselor or some other expert. Of course some arguments and disagreements about problems and tasks are bound to occur. But overall couples should be able to work together without much difficulty. The two should definitely share a sense of humor. Stress is inevitable in life and in a relationship and couples that can laugh together not only dispel stress but build a strong bond. It also speaks to something deeper, shared perceptions, values, knowledge and experiences. Mutual respect and trust are required for a relationship to be healthy. Without these, intimacy cannot take place. Sexual compatibility is extremely important for all parties to be satisfied. Some people overlook this. But if one or both parties remain unsatisfied it could tear the couple apart. Good communication is essential. Problems will inevitably be thrown at the couple. Their ability to sink like concrete or swim like dolphins all depends on how well they can communicate and resolve issues. For more, pick up a copy of How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving by David Richo and Kathlyn Hendricks.