by | May 19, 2005 | 0 comments

I’m not going to tell you I’m a master at relationships and that you must follow my advice to be successful. In fact, it’s really hard for anyone to say that because each of us is different and we approach things in our own way. What I can do is share my story, explain what happened, and tell you what I learned. I can also point you in a direction to seek additional information should you so desire.

Growing up I came from a household that ended up broken by the time I turned eight years old. It definitely wasn’t like the glory days of Leave It to Beaver. When you grow up in a family where communication doesn’t exist, it’s almost a given that your entire life will be a challenge in that area. I will say that I continue to struggle, but with personal effort, and understanding from my husband, I’ve been getting much better at it over the years.

Each relationship I’ve had has presented a new learning experience when it comes to communication or lack thereof. Thinking back I can’t really give many quality examples that would benefit anyone reading this article, except for my last experience of five years. The two of us never had a conversation in the beginning about our goals in life or our expectations of the relationship. We also sucked when it came to communicating about problems in the relationship. Now that I look back I realize that I literally spun in circles for five years making no progress in life.

One thing that surfaced early in the relationship was that he was uncomfortable living with me because he had never lived by himself before. I also frequently got the “I’m not sure I’m ready to settle down yet” conversation during the first year of the relationship. With that said it established a crumbling foundation from the beginning. When you’re with someone and they constantly insert doubt in to the relationship, it immediately puts you in caution mode. I’m sure you’re wondering why I stayed in the relationship for five years if it was so rocky. My answer to you is that I don’t know, unless I thought it would get better or improve with time. The problem is that it never did and I always waited for the other shoe to drop.

This article is about communication and why it’s important in order to start and maintain a successful relationship. In my present marriage we started off stating what our expectations were. I knew my husband wanted to eventually have children, and I’m glad it’s something we talked about at the beginning instead of it popping up several years later as a surprise. One of the other things we openly discussed was boundaries within the relationship. The main agreement we made with each other is to avoid the gay scene (bars/clubs) unless we go together. We both trust each other but we don’t trust other people. I think many will agree that it seems like people have a goal of interfering in a relationship when a couple is happy. It’s almost like they have the mentality of Well I’m Single So Everyone Should Be!

We both agreed that we wanted our relationship to be monogamous, so that was never a deep topic of conversation, but it may be something that you will want to openly discuss with your partner. You may also want to determine if you’re going to be in a serious or non-serious relationship. Another important part of our relationship is listening and responding instead of yelling at each other. Yes we’ve had arguments but we don’t have them frequently. We always try very hard to talk to each other, listen to each other, and be fair to each other. This is very hard to do and it’s something I’m still improving on.

There are eight things you can do according to John R. Ballew, M.S., a licensed professional counselor in Atlanta, to improve communication. He specializes in issues related to coming out, sexuality, relationships and spirituality.

1.      Make certain that each of you is present for the conversation.

2.      Don’t assume you know what the other person is going to say, or that you know what he means.

3.      Make sure the questions you ask are real questions.

4.      Take responsibility for your feelings.

5.      It helps to be considerate of your partner’s feelings.

6.      Listen as much as you speak.

7.      In disagreements, getting the desired result is more important than proving that your point is the right one.

8.      If at all possible, don’t let the conversation end without the issues at hand being clearly resolved.

I found writing this article to be an educational experience for myself. I looked over these eight items and asked myself if I adhere to all of them, and the answer is no! I need to work on being considerate of my partner’s feelings more often. I also need to work on making sure I don’t always feel like I need to be right. I would say that 90% of the time we resolve any conflicts before ending the conversation, but there are times when I will wait to discuss it further due to still learning how to effectively collect and express my thoughts.  I feel like I found things I need to work on this week and I hope you did as well!

If you need more information about effective relationship communication, here are the resources I used in writing this article.

Mind, Body, Soul – John R. Ballew, M.S.

Gay Relationships: Improving Communication – John R. Ballew, M.S.

Photo by Moose Photos

Last Updated: 12/20/2022

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