Communication is powerful. It helps us to get what we want and need. It quite literally and figuratively feeds us. We learned to communicate when were just tiny little bundles of joy. We cried, screamed and produced alligator tears in order to get what we needed. Demanding little jerks, weren't we? That may be, but we got what we needed. We cried for food, warmth and when we needed to be held. Babies aren't trying to be jerks or drive us insane - they are just trying to communicate with us. As we grew, we learned some words to help us communicate more effectively and had no problem letting everyone know what we wanted.
Time went by and although our vocabulary increased, some of us stopped asking for what we need and want. I'm in no way implying that everyone is communicationally challenged, but at some point most of us forgot the actual point of communication at its most fundamental level. Did we just think that everyone around us was able to guess our needs and meet them?
You're most likely about to get married. You may be shoving a bunch of your feelings down so you don't cause problems, but that in and of itself is a problem. Your partner could potentially be doing the same. Both parties are trying to please others (partner, parents, family, friends) while forgetting about what they want. Happens all the time. It's a great time to hone in on your communication skills. You'll have more clear expectations and you'll have each other's backs. After all, isn't that what being a partner is all about?
Do we really even know what we need or want? Maybe so. Maybe no. You realize this is a bit of a narrative right? Just checking. For the record, I might hold the title for best in non-communication. Don't worry, I say it all in my head. Over and over. Somehow I'm unable to vocalize what I want or even clearly understand it myself. Who knows where that comes from, well actually I do, but that's between my therapist and me thank you very much.
A lack of communication may lead to anger, sadness and resentment toward your parter. Think about how easy it is to share your thoughts with your best friends about your partner, but if you're not sharing these thoughts with your partner how could you ever expect a resolution? I'm thinking this couple, half of whom is editor, photographer and model, Sky Naite nicely illustrate that they have communication down to a science based on what we see in these photos. See more of them here. Stay tuned for their wedding in Greece in 2017.
Here are some easy ways to practice communicating effectively
1. Ask for what you want. It doesn't mean you're going to get it, but at least your partner now knows what you want. That's half the battle, isn't it? Start with easy things so you get the hang of it.
2. Tell your partner what you need. I need a hug. I need a slice of chocolate cake. I need help.
3. Tell your partner how you feel. Trust me - your partner is no mind reader unless of course they are actually a mind reader. Highly doubtful, call me a skeptic. How will they EVER know unless you tell them. They won't. Try rudimentary feelings to test the water. I am happy. I am sad. I'm hungry, no you don't understand I AM HUNGRY. I am mad. See how that goes, then you can dive a little deeper.
Communication is a two way street.
1. Ask your partner what they want. Don't you want to know?
2. Ask your partner what they need. You might learn something new.
3. Ask your partner how they feel. You might learn a lot about your partner by asking.
These types of questions can start out at a really surface level and later progress to a deeper level of closeness and allow both parties to be vulnerable. I know, I know it's scary to put yourself in a vulnerable place but you're most likely not going to die from it. If you do, you didn't hear this advice from me.
Some common communication breakdown scenarios
1. You know when your partner asks where you want to eat? You know how you reply that you don't care? Stop that bullsh*t. Pick something, ANYTHING.
2. You know when your partner asks you what's wrong? You know how you always reply that nothing is wrong? Stop that bullsh*t. Something is wrong and you know it so just say it.
3. You know when you ask your partner if you look ok? You know how your partner always says that you look great? You know how you always combat that comment? Stop that bullsh*t. Trust your partner, you look amazing. You might as well walk over to the mirror and tell yourself that you look hot. Maybe you'll start believing yourself if you start some positive self talk. Let's face it, we get grumpy toward our partners when we don't feel good about ourselves. That's not very fair, is it? Thank you, I know life isn't fair I'm just trying to make a point. Relax and cut me some slack here.
It may seem that these tips are super obvious, and they may be but that doesn't mean we apply all that is obvious to us. Please note that I wish I had another word for partner, but I didn't so I had to cross that bridge.