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Communication: The Foundation of Strong Relationships

Jenny didn’t hear her voice getting louder the way Mark did. He never raised his voice and went from annoyed to stony in a matter of minutes when Jenny’s requests got loud. She had grown up in a house where people yelled all the time. At good moments between them, they laughed at what a cruel trick their marriage was- they couldn’t have been any more different… But more often their arguments took more of their attention.

In truth they had never really understood how to talk to each other. They shared a simmering attraction and deep tenderness for each other but their communication was usually a mess.  Jenny would ask Mark to do things with her around the house and invite him to do special things like drive to the beach.  She was convinced she was clear, but it seemed like almost every plan she envisioned with him went a different way. He would show up late with the paint and with the wrong color or invite his best friend to come to the beach with them. Mark usually had no idea that Jenny was frustrated. He thought she was just moody.

Each time she communicated the edge between them seemed to grow in her mind. Even small requests like taking out the garbage or picking up dinner started with an elevated tone that Jenny didn’t even hear  and that sent Mark further away from her.

Mark’s retreat only confirmed for Jenny that he never listened to her or even cared about what she said. For his part, Mark just was trying to stay out of the line of fire, as it seemed to him, he couldn’t do anything right.

One evening, Jenny broke down in the kitchen after a particularly painful argument.

She felt terrible about the mean things she had said to Mark, but she wanted to hurt him the way she felt hurt and abandoned. She sat crying with her head in her hands. Mark sat down next to her. Neither one spoke. The silence between them softened and Mark put his hand on her leg.

Jenny looked up and saw him holding her in his gaze with no malice. He said, “I am not trying to hurt you, really. I guess I don’t know how to listen to you.” Jenny cried harder and leaned into Mark’s chest.

“I didn’t know how to tell you how much I wanted you to hear me.”  She said.

* * * *

Consider a communication story that is challenging in your own life. What are you trying to say that isn’t being heard?  Do you know what your partner needs to feel heard? Replay the last frustrating conversation in your mind and imagine if you had inserted this question into the conversation. Would it have changed the direction of the conversation?

Listening Practice: Next time you find yourself boiling with something you need to express, try to stop and listen inside. What needs to be heard? Give yourself 5- 10 minutes of quiet to see what comes to the top of all the words waiting to spill out of you.

* * * * 

When we come to the important conversations in our life with the will to listen inside and to those we love, it turns our ability to communicate inside out. We get to the heart of what communication has to offer- a feeling of deep connection and of being seen for who we are.  Cultivating the silence that allows your partnership to unfold before your eyes makes all the day to day logistical communicating a simpler practice because it isn’t burdened with the invisible weight of being heard.

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Wendy Strgar

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family.  In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy,  she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative adviceIt has been called "the essential guide for relationships."  The book is available on ebook.  Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13- 22 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.


+ add your own
11:08PM PST on Jan 21, 2014

I knew this blog post was existed someplace. Thanks to post such articles. Will unquestionably be using it very soon.

3:46AM PDT on May 20, 2013

I have got the superb information from these blogs finally.
who calls me

4:29PM PDT on Oct 5, 2011

Great article! Thanks for sharing :)

4:43AM PDT on Oct 4, 2011

Brothers and Sisters,
It is in communion and it is communicated.Both are the in an exhale the breathing. And without communicated and heard, life is just suffocation. Present world need care and concern to be heard with love .Giving this is nature best gift by any human

10:15AM PDT on Oct 2, 2011


soul communication is of importance too,

zhi gang sha book "soul communication" may add more awareness of the use of soul communication to help your relationships.

Think of it this way, when you visit a house and the atmosphere is good, I think its tapping into the soul of that space. similiarly in my opinion, unspoken but palpable energy between different people can be palpable and healable.

12:42AM PDT on Oct 1, 2011

Alongside my computer I have a note to remind me of a good communication method :
We often don't think before we speak - more particularly when we are speaking to someone close to us. We need to ask the question : What outcome do I want?
Women make shopping lists - it would be just as easy to give one to your partner.
It's easy to slip into the habit of poor communication, but if we value our relationship, it's worthwhile reading our wise Wendy over and over again.......

10:41PM PDT on Sep 30, 2011

Great article, thanks.
Unfortunately my choices in partners were not conducive to their even attempting to really listen, let alone try to understand a point of view different from their own. Third time lucky???

10:30AM PDT on Sep 30, 2011

I agree! My boyfriend and I get into arguments (smaller ones) but the communication allows us to understand each other better in the end. My ex and I were so complacent with each other that we never once fought and the relationship was horrible.

4:44AM PDT on Sep 30, 2011

so true! thanks!

11:02PM PDT on Sep 29, 2011

Very true, my wife said I did not listen enough but when I did she was pleased & even amazed, certainly makes our friendship & relationship so much better after 29 years

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