Are You Happily (n)Ever After?
Marriage or any healthy relationship, is a bonding and not a binding. Finding the right person and living happily ever after is only true in fairy tales. In reality, once you find the right partner, maintaining and nurturing the relationship bond itself takes a lifetime and living happily solely depends on how you cultivate relationship with your partner.
Communication is one of the chief ingredients besides trust, understanding, love, care, companionship and empathy in a happy and successful marriage. And, failure to communicate is one of the foremost reasons for the failure of relationships. Do you say I love you and appreciate your partner or do you just criticize and complain about him/her all day long? Do you consider his/her ideas and feelings or always turn them down? To communicate effectively is to express yourself freely to your partner, convey your likes and dislikes, convey what turns you on and what doesn’t! Unless and until you are vocal about your thoughts and feelings, how do you expect your partner to understand you? You feel frustrated and upset because things don’t happen your way but have you tried to ‘express’ your way to your partner?
Lack of communication in relationships result in frustrations, misunderstandings, unrealistic expectations, guilt and can create personal differences. It is difficult for people who share their lives with each other to coexist for long without having regular and smooth communication for oiling the machinery of the relationship.
Couples who communicate effectively are not always devoid of arguments. Arguments happen because there is a difference of opinion between the partners; which is a very normal thing. Arguments usually end in nasty and bitter manner. However it is upto us to convert that unhealthy argument into a healthy one! Most of us indulge in these arguments to win; not to resolve the matter! What is important is the ‘progress’ in the matter at hand, not the victory.
Remember, not to engage in any serious discussion or disclosure when angry as you tend to lose balance and rational reasoning. The same holds true in a situation where your partner is not “upto it”. Receptivity is of utmost importance. A ‘No’ from a partner does not mean not now, not ever. It simply means I don’t want to do that right now! –feeling free to say no if the request is unappealing at that point in time.
Communication cues that can help improve the quality of argument:
- Remember, there is no blaming game! WHAT is Right is more important than WHO is right.
- Use I statements instead of You always statements. Example - I feel angry vs. You always humiliate me. When you use I statements, you’re taking the onus on you.
- Attack the issue; not each other!
- Refrain from the 4 C’s : Caustic (sarcasm), Compare, Condemn and Criticize.
- Avoid mind-reading your partner and assuming things; instead express yourself verbally.
- Using “I feel” statements are better over “You are…” ones. When you say I feel, you’re taking the onus for your feelings and thoughts and avoiding direct blame on your partner.
- Have an open mind. Minds are like parachutes; they work best when open. Be proactive and open to changes, alternatives and work effectively for resolving a conflict.
- Stay away from Stereotyping (generalizing - all men are like that…) & ‘Gunnysacking’ (nursing past grievances and bringing them up for review while trying to resolve a present conflict).
- No engaging in ‘Summarizing self-syndrome’ where both partners continue to restate his/her stance and issues without actually listening to other and without understanding other’s perspective, feeling frustrated.
- Cut back on ‘Catastrophizing’ i.e. dwelling on the worst possible outcomes of a problem or risk that you face, to the point that even remote, unlikely disasters preoccupy your attention. Often, objectivity becomes clouded, and you may gradually begin to feel or act as though these unlikely events are really going to happen.
- Get rid of ‘Stereotyping’ (generalizing - all men are like…) and ‘Gunnysacking’ (cropping up issues from the past having no relevance to current problem).
- No sending ‘double messages’- statements which have two conflicting meanings. Keep it as simple and assertive as possible.
A mind is like a parachute, it doesn’t work unless it’s open. So have a broad perspective, try to understand your partner’s perspective and try and arrive at a mutually agreeable decision that caters to wellbeing as a whole. Matrimony is the high sea for which no compass has yet been invented. What counts in making a happy marriage is not how much compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility. Marriage was, is and never will be perfect, Yet it is the happiest wrong we are doing on earth!