“Communication” a word that is usually packed with meaning for any significant relationship. A lack of communication, or communication skills is one of the primary reasons couples and families claim relationships struggle. Although often times it is not just a lack of communicating that creates frustration. More often than not, especially in couple relationships, we do not know what type of conversation we are having with a significant other. When you do not know what type of conversation you are having there is more room for hurt feelings and miscommunication.
For example, there are two primary types of conversations: one, the expressive conversation and two, the problem solving conversation. Now to be a little gender stereotypical the first one (expressive) is primarily a female way of conversing and the second (problem solving) is generally a male’s type of conversing. Now don’t be too frustrated by this claim, we are socialized in many ways to be this way.
Women will often times desire the expressive type of conversation because they like to vent their frustrations or difficulties to their partner without their partner trying to swoop in and save the day. During these expressive conversations she would rather have a supportive, validating partner who simply listens to her difficulties. Males, however, will often feel as though they are not helping their spouse or partner unless they come up with solutions to the difficulties presented. Sound familiar?
On the other hand males generally prefer the problem solving conversation. Thus, when their partner is just listening and validating them without providing any solutions they can become frustrated and may even feel that the conversation is a ‘waste of time’.
Now there are always exceptions to this rule of thumb and both partners at some point or another will want different types of conversations. As a result, one of the simplest ways to short-circuit miscommunication is to begin with an introduction expressing the type of conversation you want to have with your partner and what you hope to receive from it (listening and validating, or potential solutions to problems).
So, part of the communication battle for many couples is found in overtly explaining what kind of conversation you need at the moment. As my husband would confirm often times I will come home and say, “love, I just need to express myself right now, I know what I am going to do and how I am going to do it so I would really appreciate you just listening and supporting me”. I challenge you to try it and see what happens.
Look for Communication in Relationships Part 2
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