A simple misunderstanding can be the beginning of the end of a relationship. Before they fully understand what’s going on, it’s turned into a massive argument. Things are said that can’t be taken back. A crack has turned into a chasm, and it can’t be plastered over.
Misunderstandings occur quite easily in relationships. All it takes is a partner who listens with half an ear to something the other party says. Or a misinterpretation of your partner’s behavior. Most often a misunderstanding occurs as a result of a failure to communicate effectively.
If it’s not addressed there and then in a mature, adult fashion, it can be disastrous. What if you don’t make it clear to your partner that you want some ‘me’ time to regroup after a hectic week? He/she could read it as rejection and that you don’t want to be with them anymore.
Here is some advice on how to avoid misunderstandings in your relationship:
- Listen actively
Deep listening requires putting what you’re doing one side and clearing your mind of distractions. You need to focus 100% on what your partner is saying to you. Often, they’re saying as much with their body language as they are with their words. If you’re not paying attention, you might miss those vital cues. It also means letting your partner finish what they have to say.
- You don’t have to win
When you get your turn to talk, don’t immediately begin a diatribe aimed only at showing them you’re right and they’re wrong. The point of a discussion such as this is to solve a problem. There does not have to be a ‘winner’ and a ‘loser.’ Even when you’re listening, don’t do so while formulating rebuttal arguments in your mind. You’re missing the point entirely.
- Speak about emotions
It’s important to make your partner understand how you feel. Don’t simply tell them what happened that has upset you, tell them how it makes you feel. For example, don’t say, “You stood me up on date night because of work.” Say something like, “It hurt me deeply that you stood me up on date night. I felt unimportant and embarrassed.” Be honest and share your true feelings.
- Fight fair
Have a set of rules for how you should behave during a disagreement. For example, you must agree that name-calling and insults are not acceptable. Raising your voice is not necessary to make a point, so shouting should be avoided. No physical threats should be allowed, ever. Emotional blackmail, such as threatening to leave, should not form part of a discussion. Keep the discussion on point, and don’t be tempted to drag issues from the past out again.
- Step back
If you see the discussion is not going according to plan, and there’s a chance you could start breaking the rules, step back. Take a timeout to regain control and calm yourself down. When emotions are high, all logic goes out the window. This can be disastrous. Return to the discussion when you’re both calmer.
- Remember the love
When things escalate, look at your partner. Remember why this relationship is important to you. It will help you focus on getting the problem resolved. You’re on the same side. If you aren’t, then it’s time to re-evaluate your relationship.
- Find out more
Don’t be afraid to look to resources such as books and online articles to help you with your relationship. There are many things you can try to get your relationship back on track. You might not be able to see them all without a bit of inspiration.
If you feel you and your partner aren’t getting anywhere, seek outside help. A therapist is a dispassionate observer. He/she can offer you insight on things you may not see since you’re too emotionally caught up in the situation.