How to resuscitate a lagging marriage

Dr. Neill knows marriage can fail. So how does a relationship grow stale? Sloppy communication is often at the heart of the matter, he says

Human beings, social creatures that we are, are hard-wired to be together.

We live our first 15 or 20 years in families. Then we bond with someone new and repeat the cycle.

Our relationships provide the contexts for our biggest highs and our times of deepest despair.

I know from hard experience marriage can fail. So how does a relationship grow stale? Sloppy communication is often at the heart of the matter.

Remember the first time you were in love? You talked honestly with each other, and the more you talked, the more you understood each other. The more you knew about each other the more you liked each other, so the more you wanted to talk.

You began the upward spiral of communication, understanding and affection. You both realized the intense level of communion you were feeling was love.

When your committed relationship grows stale, you cannot just decide, “I’m going to understand him better,” or “I’m going to like her more.”

If you practice good communication, you will understand each other more — each other’s growth, changing dreams and aspirations, needs, desires, ideas — and your affection will grow. You are reversing a downward spiral towards alienation and re-creating an upward spiral towards communion.

Unfortunately, we are all vulnerable to slipping into sloppy communication and inactive listening. You may be skipping one of the essential elements of good communication.

The first essential element is ‘attention’ for both you and your partner.

If he is not paying attention communication doesn’t happen. If you are not paying attention to him as you speak your communication again fails, leaving you frustrated.

The second essential element is ‘intention.’ You have to intend to communicate something and he has to intend to hear it. Passive chatter is not communication.

The third element, ‘acknowledgement’, is the easiest yet the most neglected. You say something. No answer. You say it again. No answer. You say it the third time, this time with irritation in your voice. You get back an annoyed, “I heard you the first time.” Every communication must be acknowledged.

Consistent acknowledgement alone could save a marriage. It’s that powerful.

 

Dr. Neill is a Central-Island Registered Psychologist. You can reach him at 250-752-8684 or through his website www.neillneill.com/contact

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