We all believe we have great communication skills. It is everyone else around us who has the communication problems, right?
The truth is, most of us are not taught how to communicate effectively. We see things, feel things, perceive things from our unique perspective and we assume others see, feel, and perceive things just like we do. When they don’t, we feel frustrated, ignored, unheard.
If we want to have healthy, satisfying relationships, we must learn healthy communication skills.
Here is an excerpt from my new book, Peace For a Lifetime, that shares how poor communication can destroy a relationship.
Several years ago I was working with a middle-aged couple, Rick and Audrey, who had been married for fifteen years. As I questioned Audrey to learn more about what wasn’t working in their relationship, she openly shared her frustration with Rick. From her perspective, he just wasn’t willing to meet her needs. Her primary complaints were Rick’s lack of affection and lack of help around the house. I followed up by asking what she had done previously to address her concerns with Rick. She replied she had told him repeatedly he was selfish and didn’t care about her at all.
Rick for his part, was mostly silent during my initial conversation with Audrey. He seemed frustrated and angry just hearing her complaints. When I addressed him to find out his concerns, his only response was, “Her.” He described he is usually attentive and doesn’t go out with his buddies to drink; he just doesn’t know what her problem is. “I think when she gets like this, she’s just crazy,” he explained. “I should have known she’d be just like her mother. This really has nothing to do with me. I’m just here to get her the help she needs.”
I asked Audrey if she had ever shared with Rick her specific complaints and how she felt about them. She replied he should know. “If he loves me, he should know the things that are important to me and should try to meet my needs.”
While I understood Audrey’s perspective and her frustration with the dynamic at work between the two of them, thinking that Rick was able to somehow know what her needs were if she was not able to communicate them clearly was a stretch.
To be honest, most of us at some point have had the experience of expecting or assuming someone should know something about us even though we have never communicated our thoughts or feelings to them. So often we carry hurts and frustrations regarding unmet needs that we have never spoken.
This illustration shows, among other things, how poorly Rick and Audrey communicate with one another. In her attempt at communicating, Audrey accuses Rick of being selfish, of not loving her or trying to meet her needs. Rick feels defensive and lashes back by placing the blame on Audrey, calling her names, and belittling both her and her mother. None of this communication is healthy and none of their interactions will bring Emotional Abundance (EA)—being able to effectively manage our emotions so we can appropriately respond to the people and circumstances around us—to the relationship.
Your relationships don’t have to be the source of such frustration. You don’t have to feel so alone with your partner. You can learn effective communication skills that will breathe new life and new hope into your relationship.
I share simple, practical life steps in my book, Peace For a Lifetime, that can help you understand the life God desires for you. This material can help you create and experience an indestructible peace – not just for today, not just for tomorrow, you can experience peace…for a lifetime!
Join the Peace for a Lifetime Community!