Relationships are something we desire, yet we don’t always know how to attain or even maintain them. Whether you’re married, in a long-term relationship, or simply in the beginning stages of dating, one of the most important aspects of a relationship is communication. There often are times when we hear that someone got married and within two years they get divorced. One main psychological theory is that the two got married in the “First Stage of Love,” which is also known as the “Infatuation Phase.” Only when we enter the second stage of the relationship, “The Power Struggle” do we see those qualities of the person that we don’t necessarily love, that can drive us crazy. Psychologically speaking, there are five stages of love, and if you have been through all five, then your success rate at staying together is much higher. To achieve getting through all five stages takes good communication skills. Three key concepts in good communication are “active listening,” “understanding your significant others upbringing”, and “honesty.”
Active listening is a psychological term that describes a very specific way to communicate. It involves one person speaking, while the other person sits back quietly, not interrupting, listening, and once their partner is done, they then reflect back on what they heard, and vice versa. This concept will help with communicating by establishing with your significant other that they have your undivided attention. They will get a chance to see if you understood what they were trying to tell you. If you missed something, they can then try to explain it again. This type of communication is helpful when you and your significant other are not connecting, or misunderstanding what is said in conversations. If you’re fighting or arguing with your significant other, try to bring this method of communication up with them and give it a shot.
The second important aspect in understanding your significant other is their upbringing. Many factors affect a person during their life that makes them who they are today. How can one expect to understand their significant other, if they don’t understand their past? For instance, if one partner was raised with parents who divorced, that can impact the way they interact in romantic relationships. Someone who was raised in a divorced household versus a household where parents stayed together could have very different messages.
Social learning theory talks about the concept of “modeling,” which means one learns by watching behavior and imitating it. For example, if your significant other grew up in a divorced household, then they might not have seen the typical romantic gestures given in a stable long-term relationship, they might not have that skill. Or, if your significant other grew up in a stable household where the mother cooked and cleaned, and the father worked and paid the bills, they might expect the same in their own relationship, subconsciously, because that is what they learned when growing up. Asking the “who, what, when, why, how” questions during your relationship can really help you understand your significant other on a deeper level.
Communication can get complicated and messy, but attempting to understand where your significant other is coming from can help make communication easier. If you’re in the beginning stages of your relationship, enjoy this time to get to know one another, be open and honest. Aside from communication, honesty is one of the most important things to have in a relationship, and deceit can forever taint the relationship you are trying to have. Once a person lies, that person usually is looked upon with skepticism in the future. Of course, the magnitude of the lie can affect whether or not you’re seen as more or less trust worthy. Everyone tells white lies, but lying to your significant other about cheating, an addiction, who you really are, can pretty much end the relationship before it begins. As scary as being honest can be, it’s not only commendable but respectful, to not just yourself but to the person you are with. Honesty says, “I respect you and want you to know who I am.”
Relationships are work, and that’s not a bad thing! No relationship is easy, and if it is, something is wrong. Relationships are a second job that you don’t really get a day off from. If you are in a relationship or want a relationship to succeed, put in the effort and time, and you will see great results!