The Importance of Communication In Repairing Relationships

The other day one of my patients was describing his angst over his marital relationship. His wife had grown distant and unresponsive. I asked him if he had discussed this with her. He had not. He was afraid to. He was afraid to find out how she was feeling and what she was thinking. And so, instead, he does nothing. He suffers silently. And the relationship continues to wind its way towards oblivion.

This is not a unique problem. This is an extremely common behavior seen in relationships that are failing. Over time, as hurtful things happen, as amends aren’t made, and as conflicts are swept under the rug rather than resolved, resentments build, bitterness brews, partners withdraw, and walls go up.

Unless someone steps up to the plate and makes the effort to open an honest dialogue, the relationship is doomed.

Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Problems in relationships will never get fixed if we choose not to deal with them. If our fear of confronting our partner and the problem head on is so great (because we anticipate we’ll receive devastating information that we don’t want to face) such that we allow it to immobilize us and paralyze us from initiating sincere communication, then no matter what state of disrepair the relationship is in, it will only get worse, and eventually our worst fears about our partner falling out of love with us and the relationship failing will be realized.

Don’t wait until it’s too late.

As soon as we recognize that a wall has gone up, that there is emotional distance, that a disconnect has occurred, that there is a coldness and a detachment evident in our partner, rather than do nothing and hope it will miraculously go away, it is critical that we address it, that we confront the problem, that we ask our partner the necessary questions, without anger, without hurt, without attack, without any agenda to generate guilt or shame. We ask the questions to discover how they’re feeling so that we can address their concerns, fix the problems and repair the relationship.

If we don’t do this and choose instead to avoid the issues that have created the rift in the relationship, we can know for certain as we allow more time to pass with words unspoken, that the rift will expand into a chasm and the relationship will descend into greater depths of disrepair, past the point where it can be healed and restored.

Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Best we recognize the red flags and warning signs of a relationship going south. Best we not avoid confronting the problems for fear that we will hear the worst and not be able to deal with it. Best we have the courage to face the music because only by doing so can we ever hope to change its tune.

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