Communicating through words—through the sharing of your experiences, feelings and reactions—helps to create bridges that connect you and your partner/spouse. Effective communication doesn’t just involve words, however. It also centers around an emotional resonance where each person tunes into what the other is feeling (like turning the radio dial beyond the static until the music you seek crystallizes).
It is this attunement that brings about a powerful sense of connection, a sense of togetherness that can transcend words. And, of course, words that arise from empathic understanding (e.g., “I can see how much you want this. It must be painful waiting.”) facilitate this emotional connection.
Communication in Marriage: Make Vulnerability Part of Your Couples Communication Landscape
Whenever we make ourselves emotionally vulnerable and we feel loved, supported and understood by our partner/spouse while we are vulnerable, a deeper connecting experience occurs. But we may not always be aware of when our loved one is experiencing vulnerability. I’ve seen this often in my work with couples. One partner shares something that feels emotionally risky and the other partner acts as though nothing significant has occurred. This missed and unacknowledged vulnerability can lead to emotional wounding and trigger cycles of disconnection and withdrawal (a self-protective move). Or the wounded individual may become highly defensive and go into verbal attack mode.
While we’d all love our partner to be naturally empathic to what we’re needing emotionally, the reality is many of us fall short in this area (or, our own issues and preoccupations get in the way). This is why communicating about your vulnerability before making yourself vulnerable can go a long way in setting the stage of getting what you need from your partner. How can this help?
One of the main things we’re needing from our spouse/partner is their emotional presence when we are taking risks and becoming vulnerable. In this regard, you are helping your partner transition into a more empathic psychic space by informing them that you are sharing something important and that you’d like their full attention. You may also need to inform them that, in addition to their full attention, you’ll be needing greater acceptance and patience as you become more vulnerable by what you are sharing. This can go a long way in advocating for yourself and setting the stage for more fulfilling patterns of communication.
Are you willing to give this communication strategy a try?
Remember, there is nothing wrong with helping your partner (while s/he is in the role of listener) become the type of listener you want and deserve. I go into greater detail about this important topic in my e-book on how couples can deepen their connection through more effective communication.