I am not happy in our relationship … How can I communicate it?

Many ways to communicate:

  • Speech
  • Facial expressions
  • Body language
  • Eye contact
  • What is not said
  • Silence

We pick up all kinds of messages through body language and sometimes this medium is more truthful that actual words. Body language is usually done on a sub conscious level where as speech is more often conscious. We can lie much more easily with words than we can with body language.

We filter our listening:

We hear things through a barrier; this barrier can be called our conditioning which evolves through our family values, norms, emotions, belief systems etc.  We hear things which we want to hear or sometimes which we particularly do not want to hear.  I heard of a woman who was undergoing exploratory surgery after a long term undiagnosed illness.  The doctor was believed to have made the comment, ‘well I cannot do any more so we will leave it for now. The woman assumed that she was so ill with cancer that he was leaving her to die.  She took her own life because she could not live with the ‘fact’.  She heard him say ‘you are dying and I cannot save you’. What he actually said was there is nothing fundamentally wrong with you so get on with your life. She feared the worst and assumed the worst.

Self esteem plays a large part in communication.

Someone with low self-esteem will exude all kinds of messages and often negative ones, for example; I am not a nice person so don’t even bother to be friends with me; I know that whatever you say will be negative so I will attack you before you get the chance to do it to me; my opinion won’t matter so I won’t give it; I’ll hurt you before you can hurt me; I don’t want to hear anything you say because it will be negative.

I believe that poor communication is the biggest factor for breaking up relationships not affairs as is often quoted.  Affairs are often symptoms of poor communication.  Some people think that communicating is just being able to ‘talk’ but avoid, quite skilfully, talking about deeper issues or worries by chatting on about insignificant things. People who cannot or will not confront the deeper issues do this for many reasons:

  1. They are afraid to ‘rock the boat’
  2. Afraid of recriminations or conflict
  3. Can’t be bothered
  4. Are depressed
  5. Feel that they cannot resolve it so would rather bury it
  6. Afraid to hear the truth
  7. Afraid of criticism – what does that mean to them if they are at fault?
  8. Afraid of their emotions; anger , fear or sadness.
  9. Habit of sticking their heads in the sand and hope it will go away.
  10. Don’t care what the outcome is

Men and woman usually respond very differently to a struggling relationship.  Typically,  women take around  two years for her to ‘grieve’ for her relationship and before she will tell her partner that the relationship is over; if she ever does pluck up the courage.  For those who do not they will endure a miserable relationship; maybe have an affair to flag up that there is a problem or suggest counselling.  For those who do have the courage to tell their partners that their relationship is over the result is usually complete disbelief by the partner. He may say something like; ‘where the hell has that come from’; what do you mean? Let’s go for counselling; I had no idea things were this bad’.

The common process is for a woman to tell her partner in very many different ways that she is not happy in the relationship:

  1. Sulking
  2. Detaching herself
  3. Isolating herself
  4. Withdrawing sex
  5. Not wanting to socialize
  6. Snapping
  7. Arguing
  8. Nagging
  9. Psychosomatic illness
  10. Telling him that she has: had enough; not happy; can’t talk anymore; doesn’t listen etc.

The man assumes:

  1. It’s probably PMS time
  2. She’s in a mood
  3. Someone has upset her (not thinking it may be him)
  4. She’s not well
  5. She’s not happy at work
  6. She’s probably had a row with one of her friends.
  7. It will pass as it has done before.

(Given that 70% of our assumptions are wrong there is little wonder that we seldom get it right).

During this time she will feel all sorts of emotions;

  1. Anger
  • Why can’t he see how I am being affected by us
  • He won’t change
  • He doesn’t love me
  • He doesn’t care
  • He won’t even listen
  • He could save us but won’t
  • Our relationship is so unimportant that he won’t even try
  • He must be completely stupid if he doesn’t realize that we are coming to an end.
  • Does he think I can go on forever being treated like this?
  • He is waiting for me to make a decision to end us.
  • He’s having an affair
  1. Sadness
  • Why can’t he just love me
  • I don’t know why he can’t just try
  • He doesn’t seem to realise that my love for him has almost died.
  • He’s pretending all is well so he cannot really care.
  • I feel like I am grieving
  1. Fear
  • Is this the end?
  • I cannot see him/her ever changing
  • He doesn’t listen so how can we reconcile?
  • What now?
  • How will I go forward?
  • I couldn’t manage on my own
  • What about the children?
  • What will our friends say or do?
  • Is it better not to rock the boat and suffer in silence?
  • Could he possibly change or is it too late now?

Generally for a man is it much more black and white. If he feels that his wife is acting a bit odd he will usually assume that she is in a mood and will not pick up the nuances. If his wife is falling out of love with him he will want her to ‘spell it out’ and not go all around the houses.

When someone wants to separate from their ‘other’ it is often very difficult to communicate this.   Sometimes women think that they are communicating when in actual fact they are giving weak signals.  Others give strong signals but the recipient doesn’t or cannot receive them whilst others get the message loud and clear but choose to ignore it because they just do not have the skills or courage to deal with it. Others think it will go away, in time.

So, if you are unhappy in your relationship tell your partner before it is too late. Try not to second guess or make assumptions, ask pertinent questions and make very clear statements.

For example:

‘I am not happy in my relationship because (explain what is not working) and this makes me feel (disappointed, unhappy, angry, sad) so I would like  (suggest changes or counselling) to happen.   If we cannot resolve this I think we need to think about a separation.’

If you are still in love with your partner you could start your conversation with, ‘I love you but I am not happy. I want to better our relationship’……

‘How do you feel about me and our relationship’?…..(Then articulate how you feel).

If you suggest counselling and s/he will not participate what does that tell you?  If there isn’t a valid reason why, maybe you could explain, very clearly, that your relationship is close to ending if things do not change.


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