The kind of a couple I call a pressure cooker couple was sitting at a table next to me. Both of them were heated up and competing in letting off steam at the other person with greater force…
Him: “Do you know the biggest mistake made by women? You think you can change men. But men will never change.”
Her: “And do you know what the biggest mistake of men is? You think that she will never leave. But she will.”
I do not know what problem this couple was dealing with, but I could see that the problem was growing instead of being resolved.
That’s a shame. Most problems in a relationship disappear as soon as we start talking to each other instead of one about the other.
When I finished writing the book 250 Laws of Love and placed the quote “A relationship is like a tandem bike; it is not possible for one to pedal and the other to brake”, on the cover of the book, I imagined communication to be that tandem bike.
Most relationships die of the words that are never spoken. Or words that are spoken by one but ignored by the other.
No two people out there are the same – they do not have the same genes, upbringing, lives, experiences, values, viewpoints or threshold of pain. This is why they can complement each other very nicely when one of them happens to offer the opposite (positive) viewpoint, their own solution, refreshing encouragement – in cases where the first person would never look for it and logically could not find it.
This is the advantage of differences between partners. However, there are two sides to each coin and differences between partners also have their drawbacks.
Nobody can see inside another person’s head. We cannot read between the lines. We do not always understand another person’s riddles, assumptions, feelings. This is because we are each different. However, nature has equipped us so that we understand one another. We all have one mouth and two ears. This alone suggests something – that we should be talking to each other, yes, but listening to each other even more.
Is something troubling you, and your partner is refusing to talk to you about it?
Do you confide in your partner and it feels as if you were speaking to yourself – they are listening but do not hear?
Does your partner belittle your feelings? Do they laugh at you because they do not perceive the source of your pain as something hurtful?
Are they trying to persuade you that you are making a big deal out of nothing?
Are you starting to doubt yourself?
Or do you have doubts about your relationship? Do you struggle to understand why your partner ignores things that spoil your happiness even though they made a big thing about being willing to do ANYTHING to make you happy at the beginning?
The most important thing in a relationship
It is very rarely that a partner is so twisted that they would deliberately refuse to address things that are hurting you. It is more likely that they simply do not know how to do this. We need to understand that we all need to learn first and we can learn. What’s more, we have to learn in a relationship because a relationship between two people stands on compromises. The right compromises are not reached by both people stepping aside. On the contrary, they both need to take a step forward – closer to each other.
Bear with me as I take a small detour into my memory. As a young fool chasing money and career, I often had my head elsewhere, other than in the relationship. I knew how to do a market research, how to create a plan with measurable objectives, how to set up a basic viable product and how to make a unique sales argument. I learnt to establish financing, budget and marketing plans. It would seem I had mastered everything I needed to succeed but this was just an illusion. I had forgotten one thing – my personal life.
All relationships are like a garden. They require care – regular watering and weeding out problems. In a relationship, we cannot say that we will take time off next year and then we will address whatever is troubling my partner. The most precious gift we can give our partner in a relationship is not a flat or a fur coat but our own time. Proper concentration and attention paid to our partner is an irreplaceable commodity. And we need to learn how to communicate correctly, even when we are overworked.
This may come as a surprise to some but communication is a two-way process. This does not mean that both need to talk. It is enough if one talks – it is very good if they pour their heart out openly. However, the other partner must be present – physically and emotionally. They need to master the skill of correct listening.
Many people believe that listening is a passive process. This is not the case; proper listening is an activity. It is an activity because it supports the other person in their words – in opening a Pandora’s box in which the other person has been hiding something that is not said easily and that may hurt when spoken out. It is also an activity because active listening HELPS US to hear and remember what the other person is saying.
Why we need to learn to listen correctly
We usually listen for three reasons in our professional, private and intimate relationships: 1) for joy; 2) for new information; and mainly 3) for understanding. It is not our own clever talk but listening that helps us understand what our partner fears, what they wish to improve and why they could leave us.
Unfortunately, people generally only remember between 25–50% of what they hear. This depends on our fatigue and concentration levels. Whenever we talk to our superiors, subordinates, customers or friends, as well as partners, we can be certain that they do not retain more than half of all we are saying.
Is this annoying? Do you dislike talking in vain? Believe that others dislike it just as much. And your partner regrets this even more.
This is why this article has been written.
Correct listening is a technique for targeting your effort not only at individual words but the message as a whole. People do not speak with their mouths only. I believe that you will understand from the following lines that listening is anything but a passive process. Listening is demanding. Be prepared for problems you may encounter as you try to change your passive habits. Believe me, it is well worth it. You will never miss the reason why your partner is unhappy again.
What are the 5 steps you need to take?
Please, continue to the 2nd page.