Is your marriage masking poor interpersonal communication?
Interpersonal communication means communication between two people. A romantic relationship, in this case, marriage, involves two people and the two people need to communicate if their relationship is to flourish.
There’s a thing called individuality and in a relationship, individuality matters. And where there’s individuality in a romantic relationship interpersonal communication matters. You may have been married for years and be proud that you know your significant other like the back of your hand due to earlier interpersonal communication. But, there’s a factor called change – people change. Your spouse might have changed. And you might have no idea of that change because you think you know your spouse all too well. So, you don’t ask, “What’s new?” or “Do you love me?” or “What would you like for dinner?” to your better half. Your better half might be waiting for you to ask that and when you don’t, that means your marriage is masking poor interpersonal communication on the ironical basis of understanding.
Behavioral science defines this scenario of ‘I know you too well to misunderstand you’ as having an illusion of insight. In the process of knowing someone metaphorically inside out, it creates an illusion of understanding more than actual understanding.
This maybe shocking but it is real and happening. It is making years of solid foundation of marriage crumble like termites slowly eating up an edifice. So, how to unmask poor interpersonal communication in your marriage?
If you detect a difference in mood, or walking gait, disinterest in sex or if your spouse picks at his/her favorite food or any anomaly or them not being their usual self, observe their mannerisms. See if they form a pattern and whether it’s constant. These changes can denote illnesses, stress, infidelity, your spouse seeking change or it can mean nothing.
Ask your spouse what’s wrong or whether he/she has anything to tell you. Don’t confront or prod or it can exacerbate stuff and make your spouse get into defense or fight or flight mode. If he/she tries to hide or don’t open up a nanosecond after you initiated conversation or questioning, give it time. Sooner or later it will have to be told. After all the two of you is a unit. If the change is for the bad like a demand for separation or divorce or a serious illness, then the interpersonal communication needs to be expanded – your parents, siblings and kids will have to be in the know for a support system and life changing decision making.
- You taking the first step in telling what’s new about you
One way you can make your spouse open up quicker and more comfortably to you is you giving the cue. You take the burden of telling whether you have changed or not. It can be something very minor like the new salad vinaigrette which you tried and liked. It will pave way for a discussion for more major things and an opportunity to understand each other’s changes and why. This will cement new understanding.
- Listen more than talking
Many people take pride in knowing their spouse that they don’t bother to listen to them assuming that they don’t need to listen since they know everything about their better half. Effective communication involves effective listening. When your spouse tries to convey something to you listen to them instead of cutting them short or interrupting halfway. A one sided communication is no communication. Worse, it discourages communication, especially interpersonal communication.
- Allocate talk time for just the two of you
This is perhaps the most crucial step to unmask poor communication in your marriage. Allocate some time daily for the two of you to indulge in interpersonal communication. Tell your spouse anything you feel needs to be told. It can be about your new hairdo or your blood test result. Also listen when your spouse speaks and respond accordingly. This way, you will understand your spouse better every day rather than just assuming that you understand then in the overconfidence that you know your significant other all too well, you simply cannot be wrong about them.
You would definitely assume or believe in a whole hearted way that there is no way communication can misfire or be misunderstood by your spouse whom you’ve been married to for years. But it can misfire. People didn’t say invest in your marriage instead of your wedding without eclectic wisdom. Marriage is a lifetime exercise and a lifetime of unmasked interpersonal communication is paramount in matrimony.