Recent studies are changing the way we look at communication within relationships.
We‘ve heard it all before: communication is the key to a successful relationship. Yet most of us inadvertently end up withdrawing and resorting to the silent treatment in hopes our partner will eventually figure out what’s bugging us. After all, if they really knew us, they’d know what we’re thinking, right?
As much as you can’t expect you or your partner’s communication habits to change over night, what you can do is aim to communicate each other’s needs more effectively. One effective way is by discovering each other’s love language. Thanks to Gary Chapman, love guru and renowned author of the New York Times best-seller The Five Love Languages, you can toss those negative vibes aside and be on your way to better communication. In his novel, Chapman outlines the five ways in which we express and aim to receive love, which include: acts of service, words of affirmation, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. Chances are you and your partner prioritize one of the five love languages more than the other. Although, since most of us express love in the way we’d like to receive it, we’re not always on the same page when it comes to A) speaking the same love language and B) expressing our needs without taking the easy way out through disengagement methods.
It comes as no surprise that disengaging tactics are causing harm in more ways than one. A recent study at Baylor University sheds light on how these tactics speak volumes to the overall status of the relationship. After conducting three studies with more than 2,588 married or cohabiting participants, researcher and associate professor of psychology and neuroscience Keith Standford discovered how “withdrawal is the most problematic for relationships” and has a direct correlation to a partner’s overall unhappiness in a relationship. People who opt for withdrawal in the middle of an argument are more likely to feel “bored, disinterested or apathetic.” So chances are, when a storm’s brewing and you or your partner are resorting to taking the flight response instead of the “fight,” there’s something more going on than meets the eye.
On the other hand, if you or your partner expect one another to be a mind reader, then “you’re worried about how much your partner loves you, and that’s associated with neglect. You feel sad, hurt and vulnerable”, says Standford. Expecting your partner to have the mind reading capabilities of Professor X or choosing to withdraw in times of crisis can result in a continuous flow of poor communication in a relationship.
Let’s face it, there’s nothing more frustrating than having your partner fail to understand what’s important to you or, alternatively, having trouble communicating what’s important to you. While you may express your love by buying luxury handbags and gift certificates at the spa for your partner, your partner on the other hand may not appreciate the gesture in return. For them, what may tickle their fancy can be the act of service of concocting one of their favourite home cooked meals. By discovering you and your partner’s love language, and opting out from being passive aggressive, you’ll level the playing field when it comes to communicating your needs in a healthy and effective manner. An added bonus: You won’t run the risk of seeing that disappointed look on your partner’s face on their birthday ever again.
This article originally Ask Men.
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