A quick test I use when working with clients & to ascertain the health of their relationship is this & it is a question you can ask yourself:
Are you having conversations about how you relate to each other?
What I mean is do you talk about the dynamics of your relationship: the ups and downs; celebrating; appreciating; being honest about how you really feel about what’s happening at any one moment in the relationship; having the scary conversations; taking responsibility & being willing to hold your hand up regarding the part you were playing in any situation?
Functioning ‘Dysfunctional’ Relationships
Many couples feel they are being open with their partner because they are able to express themselves and have conversations about how they feel about their job, their family, their friends, the current political climate & so forth. However, when it comes to being really open about the relationship they have with each other, this somehow gets pushed under the carpet, into a little dark corner of the room.
And what happens to that untended pile of rubbish?
It becomes the elephant in the room! It starts to harbour all the resentment, discontentment & frustrations never aired.
These relationships as often what I call ‘functioning dysfunctional’. They can seem fairly healthy to all concerned in and outside of the relationship but generally there are many games being played out, unintentional manipulations, feelings unexpressed & resentments being harboured.
This unspoken ‘stuff’ & lack of ‘real’ communication unfortunately can have disastrous consequences for any relationship: affairs; depression; a lack of intimacy & sexual relations; contempt; stonewalling; constant criticism; defensiveness (John Gottman’s ‘The 4 Horseman’ – predictors of whether a relationship will end in divorce).
Invite Your Partner!
So, if you realise that you are not having open, honest conversations with your partner, it is never too late. It is a good subject to bring up in itself to get you started:
For example, “I notice we don’t actually address what is happening between us. I feel comfortable expressing how I am feeling in relation to things outside of our relationship but it feels more difficult for me to have a conversation about us. I would love to be able to be more honest & open with you about how I feel/see our relationship & know that healthy relationships make a point of doing this. How do you see it?”In this way you are inviting your partner to explore with you.
Vulnerability can open up your relationship beautifully!
It can of course, feel scary to suddenly start revealing your inner most feelings and this is because we are asking ourselves to be vulnerable. Vulnerability takes courage because we never know how our partner will respond & we fear the rejection or dismissal we received in our past. But know that vulnerability is strength & it can open up a relationship beautifully so that both partners feel free to be themselves & it encourages an environment whereby all cards are on the table and each person knows where they stand, no hiding or game playing.
What will be your first step to creating healthier, more open & honest relationship communication?
Transform Your Relationship Communication Sooner rather than later in the following ways!
My online course ‘Real Relationship Communication’ is now available. You can go through the course at your own pace & will be able to learn from the videos showing my husband, Matt & I demonstrating a healthy form of dialogue for couples. This course gives you lifetime access & lots of tips about how to communicate with your partner to bring you closer & help you navigate periods of conflict.
If you prefer to work on a 1 to 1 basis whether that is on your own or with your partner, please book in your 30 minute free consultation call to find out more about how we can work together.