My challenge to couples is to work on understanding these urges to protect themselves and how these urges can impede our ability to actually hear what our partner is saying. Your partner might be telling you that they’re scared or that they’re confused or that they’re lonely. They may not tell you that directly; it might be packaged in a way that feels emotional or intense, but the message is there nonetheless. However they tell you, though, our conversations will be more effective when we learn to moderate that inclination to step back and defend.
As a couples therapist, I often have couples that tell me how much their phone is interfering with their lives and their relationship. When they reunite after a day at work, couples say that their phones serve as an all-too-easy distraction that reduces the quality of their time together. It can keep them from having important conversation. It can keep their mind partially at the office instead of being fully present at home. It’s a real problem – we’ve talked about it a previous blog post, too.
If you ask any therapist who works with relationship issues, they will tell you that every single couple they see will say, at some point in the process, “We just need help communicating.” If you’ve ever thought that – or said it aloud – know that you are definitely not alone.I have to admit, though, I think there is way more going on than just that.
If you’re going to be a human being, then relationships are going to be a part of your life. We are social creatures and when we find ourselves in a safe and loving relationship with another human, we have an opportunity to thrive. Close relationships – whether they’re romantic or not – come with many benefits. When we fall in love, though, we might not be remembering that relationships are also hard work!
There is a deep-down part of us that has evolved to need human-to-human contact. This is the contact that comforts our spirits and let’s us know that we are not alone in the world. In reality, we can have enormous lists of friends and still feel completely alone. According to neuroscientists, when we really connect in face-to-face conversation, parts of our brains literally begin to synchronize. This keeps us attached to each other. It can help keep us securely coupled together.