Do We have Good Communication?
Hi everybody, it’s Maggie O’Connor at Breakthrough MFT helping you reach your”breakthrough moment”.
How do I know if I have good communication with my partner?
If you’re asking the question, you probably are feeling like there’s something missing in this area for you.
We know if we’re being heard. We know if we’re being seen. More importantly, we know if we’re being seen even for the parts of ourselves that we don’t share so easily; and in this pandemic, we are showing more of ourselves than we ever thought we would!
So I ask you, ‘How is that being received in your life?’ because here’s the part of communication that always gets missed: It’s not just about what you’re showing or what you’re saying, but how it’s being received by your partner.
For example, in a couples session, the wife was talking about how she was putting the baby to bed and she says, ‘…so I went back in to put a blanket on the baby…’ and the husband jumps in and says, ‘So you’re saying I’m a bad father!!!’
Does she think he’s a bad father? Probably not.
But something’s happening in that system that makes it hard for the husband to see her as nurturing, because he feels so criticized. It’s being expressed, this nurturing, but it’s not being received. This couple could get lost in a negative communication cycle very quickly – sort of like, ‘this is what I heard you say… this is what I made up about it… and that’s what i’m reacting to…’
We react to the narrative instead of the person.
Narratives are stories we construct about why people do what they do, and they can be really helpful as we organize our daily lives. But sometimes they’re more accurate than others.
In a healthy communication system, it feels safe to be curious and explore with your partner what just happened there. So, in in this situation the wife could say, ‘…hey, what’s going on? Do you really think I think you’re a bad dad?’ The husband could consider the question, and respond to that.
In a less healthy communication structure, the narratives are all we have so we hold on tight they repeat and make it reallllly hard to see the other person for who they are what they’re saying. This husband will insist that he can’t get it right with his “critical wife” and they will lock into a defensive cycle that will make it impossible for them to share this nurturing moment with their baby.
Neither of them will feel seen; neither of them will feel heard.
Therapy can help you recognize and define some underlying patterns or issues that might make it harder for you to be curious with each other. Therapy can help you run more accurate narratives rather than letting them run you.
I’m Maggie O’Connor, hoping this helps you to ‘break on through’.