“We just need to learn to communicate better”
Improving communication or more specifically learning how to resolve conflict is perhaps one of the biggest myths about creating a successful relationship. While often touted as the cure-all for troubled relationships, conflict resolution does not open the pathway to enduring love or a happy marriage.
Active listening is one of the most common approaches used by marriage counsellors to resolve conflict and improve communication. Yet, research suggests only 35% of couples experience a meaningful improvement in their relationship, and the rate of relapse within 1-year post therapy is high.
“Learn to communicate better” is a popular message however, where there is a lack of open communication especially around emotional vulnerabilities, couples are distressed and constricted in their interactions with each other and in processing their own emotions. They become focused on their own hurt feelings, proving they are right and their partner is wrong. Lines of communication become constrained or shut down altogether.
If you feel learning to communicate in a more sensitive way, using actively listening will make conflict resolution easier for you and your partner then by all means use it. It is important to understand however, it is not the key to relationship success so don’t give up on your relationship if the approach doesn’t work for you.
Men and women have an irreducible need to connect, feel love and belonging. It is impossible to experience connection without vulnerability. Cultivating trust and connection, and experiencing vulnerability is a pre-requisite for loving relationships and finding a less combative way of engaging with the world.
Interested in finding out more about how to enhance or repair your relationship? Learn More
Brown, B. (2012). Daring Greatly.
Gottman, J. (1999). The seven principals for making marriage work.
Johnson, S. (2004). The practice of emotionally focused couple therapy