Communication is important, but it’s not nearly the god standard that it’s made to be in popular culture and in therapist’s offices
In my work outside of psychoanalysis I had to sit through lecture after lecture telling me that the, “Satisfied couples are the one that can communicate the best.” Then you’d think that therapist and English teachers would have a lower rate of divorce than everyone else, but they don’t.
Great communication creating satisfaction in a relationship is a myth.
I know every therapist, couple’s therapist and relationship coach will tell me I have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m going to say that they don’t know what they’re talking about. They just took for granted something that was said long ago that had little to no evidence.
Communication is important, but it’s not nearly the god standard that it’s made to be in popular culture and in therapist’s offices.
In a study done by Gottman (2015) it was found that “The determining factor in whether wives feel satisfied with sex, romance and passion in their marriage is, by 70 percent, the quality of the couple’s friendship. For men, the determining factor is, by 70 percent, the quality of the couple’s friendship (pp. 19).”
I remember presenting this at a conference and from the crowd someone yelled out, “Best friends communicate very well Mr. Ayala!”
The place erupted in laughter and in the middle of the laughter I said, “Show me the data.”
The room was quiet again.
Can you explain to me why you married your partner and can they say why they married you?
No, it’s not just about communication or even primarily about communication. Best friends, and more importantly, those in long-term successful relationships do at least these 4 things.
- They know every intimate detail of their partner’s world and are continuously curious about the ever-evolving world of their partner.
– Do you know your partners hopes and aspirations? Do they know yours? You have to know them and know yourself to create a strong enough friendship that creates a satisfying bond with another.
- They do activities that continuously nurture the positive thoughts, admiration and fondness they have for each other.
– Can you explain to me why you married your partner and can they say why they married you? Exploring this question can be painful when your relationship is in trouble or you may not really be able to think of why you are even married. Those in a strong friendship can do this and this is part of what keeps them in satisfying relationships.
- They let themselves be influenced by their partner instead of fighting them each step of the way.
– This doesn’t mean doing what you are told. That’s not a relationship, that’s a totalitarian leadership. Ask yourself, “When I say something to my partner while we are dealing with a difficult topic, does what I say really count?” If not, your relationship is likely functioning too much as a dictatorship.
– Too many people fear being influenced by who they are with. This could be because they know, unconsciously and/or consciously that who they are with isn’t any good so it’s a smart thing to not be influenced by them. This then begs the question of why you’re still with them? Also, people are afraid to be influenced by their spouse because of the fear of “losing themselves” and becoming the plow horse for their spouse’s wishes and not their own.
– There is a risk involved when being influenced by another, but it’s your responsibility to not be taken over. In relationships, we become emotional prisoners through our own will and wish to not hold any responsibility in creating a meaningful relationship, not through the force of the other.
- Have and create shared meaning
– Do you share similar values in your roles as parents and spouses? Do you support each other’s aspirations in life?
If the both of you are not heading the same way in life, you’ll only destroy each other, your families and your kids as you continuously rip each other apart. When
I remember listening to the song Wonderful by Everclear and there’s a line where the child is arguing with his mom about his mom and dad splitting up and he says,
“I don’t want to hear you say
We both have grown in a different way.”
The pain and suffering that this song evokes is the pain and suffering you will invest in and create if you get together and make a life with someone who doesn’t share your values. It doesn’t even mean that you two are bad people, you will just not grow in the same way and it’s your responsibility to see that way before you start a committed relationship with them.
What it comes down to is if you are emotionally distant and don’t like who you’re married to or who you’re with, you’ll never have a satisfying relationship. As Dr. Gottman (2015) found out that when one or both people in the relationship has emotionally disengaged from each other,
“Our lab studies indicate that these emotionally distant couples do divorce-but they split after an average of 16 years, compared with 5.6 years for couples whose conflict discussions are overrun by the four horsemen (pp. 50).”
If you believe in an after-life or not, why spend an average of 16 years dead in a relationship?
Not sure what to do or think about what you’re feeling? If you’re curious to know more about What Determines Satisfaction in Your Relationship here is my Guide: 14 Differences Between Toxic & Loving Relationships. This will walk you through the different parts of these kinds of relationships so you can identify what you or one of your loved ones is experiencing so you can Fix Your Fate instead of letting destiny choose for you.
I will also be starting a group shortly that dives deeply into the 7 Principles that Save a Marriage. If you are interested in being part of this group in Orlando e-mail me at CanloveLast@gmail.com for more details.