“Communication to a relationship is like oxygen to life. Without it…it dies.” Tony Gaskins
The best predictor for whether a couple will ultimately divorce is not their age, income or even whether they are facing stressful life challenges. It’s how they communicate.
Sandra and her husband have been married for 18 years and have two kids together. Her husband thinks their marriage is fine, but Sandra feels like she has more of a roommate than a husband. There is no emotional connection between them, they don’t talk much and they rarely touch. Here’s what she shared with me:
I don’t know how to explain to him why our marriage isn’t fine. He doesn’t seem to understand what I need or be willing to try to step out of his comfort zone to provide it to me. So, naturally, I view this as a lack of concern for our marriage.
She essentially wanted to know, How Do I Tell My Husband I’m Unhappy?
Expressing what we need is difficult. As women, we were never even taught that we should have our own needs, much less vocalize them.
But if we cannot tell our spouses what we need, then we essentially lose the right to be mad when they don’t give it to us.
Let me say that again so that you hear it:
You cannot be mad at your husband for not giving you what you need if you cannot (or will not) clearly express what it is you’re looking for him to do.
He’s not magical enough to read your mind.
And his interpretation of what you need may be very different than your interpretation of what you need in the marriage.
And even if you can’t put it into words, you could mirror it for him to help him understand.
Imagine how their relationship could shift if this (or any part of this) became the conversation:
Over the past few months, I feel like we’ve become more like roommates than husband and wife.
I would like us to see us make an effort to connect more with one another, to spend more time together and to have deeper conversations.
I think we’ve been pouring all of our energy into the kids and the house and our jobs that we’ve placed our marriage on auto-pilot and I’m afraid that if we don’t start making our relationship more of a priority that there will come a day that it will be too far gone to repair and that scares me.
I would also like us to be more affectionate with one another. When you look into my eyes and tell me you love me, I feel a real comfort. When you kiss me or hold my hand, it makes me feel really special.
And I want you to feel that from me as well.
So you have my commitment that I am going to step-up my game in our relationship. I am going to make you and us more of a priority. I am going to share more of my heart with you and I’m going to really listen when you share yours. And I’m going to be more affectionate with you, because I don’t expect you to do anything for me that I won’t do for you. It may feel awkward or scary sometimes, and I may not always do it right, but I’m genuinely going to try. Will you also try?
You see, there is a way to do this:
- To determine what we really need and how we want our most important and most intimate relationship to feel…
- To share that with our partners in a way that they can hear it…
- And then to take the necessary steps to actually create the kind of loving, connected relationship you desire.
P.S. Oh and her last line about his inability to meet her unexpressed need was clearly as a lack of concern for their marriage on his part…that’s where the marriage can really fall off the rails if we don’t get clarity about what’s really happening.