Are you experiencing constant arguments which are left unresolved?
Has anger and irritability sneaked into your relationship?
Do you find you are hurting each other?
Do you feel disrespected and criticized?
Making a relationship work needs two people who can communicate effectively with each other, on both a social and emotional level. Relating on a social level is the ability, and willingness, to describe and share the events of the day, converse on experiences with others, plan together, and respond to each other in a positive way.
Communication on an emotional level is the ability to relate deeply, by becoming more open, sharing thoughts, emotions, and feelings with each other in a mutually safe space. It is often at this emotional level couples experience a level of distress in their communication with each other. Many different dysfunctional patterns of communication can develop over time, and one such pattern is the pursuer/distancer pattern of communication.
The pursuer may experience their need for emotional intimacy is not met, and become increasingly unhappy, anxious, and feeling isolated and alone. The distancer may withdraw, feeling attacked and demanded from, and want alone time when under stress, escalating their partner’s need for closeness. The person with the least desire/need for closeness and intimacy always controls it.
CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:
- Observe your own communication style.
Remember this is not about right or wrong. By knowing and understanding your own communication style, you are in a stronger position to have this conversation with your partner. You are in an even better position to truly listen to your partner communicating their communication style. By exploring together, you may even become more aware of how your parents, or other family members communicate with each other. We learn from those closest to us.
- Manage your own emotions.
It is vital to become emotionally intelligent, and understanding the messages our emotions bring us. One of the most important messages our emotions can provide us with, is the state of our relationship bond. Emotions tell us whether our relationship is healthy, or in need of attention.
In the pursuer/distancer pattern of communication, one partner could feel blamed and attacked, feeling they are doing something wrong, and conversation can become deadlocked. We know the desire of one partner to become closer, can be experienced as criticism/demanding by the other.
The process of counselling could assist in helping each partner understand their emotional needs, what the contributing factors could be, and negotiate an effective solution for both partners. Contributing factors could be stress, work related difficulties, fear, feeling overwhelmed, and learnt communication patters. Being able to effectively communicate emotional needs and differences, need both parties to be willing to hear each other, without judgment, blame or personalizing what the other has said.