What happens if you do not talk?
This is about every relationship we have that is meaningful to us. When it comes to the relationship with your partner, everything is amplified, because being in a relationship means there are additional expectations towards each other. Unfortunately, often they are not voiced. So what happens if we don’t talk openly in our relationships?
By the way, this is not only about the big things. Even small topics such as the “correct” way of washing the dishes can become an issue. Keep in mind that in a relationship there are no such things as vanities. Especially, if you feel hurt or sad. If you constantly tell yourself that those aren’t things we need to be talking about because they are so small you will subconsciously build up resentment.
It is easy to see with big issues. But often it is the small things that drive us apart. And this resentment will go both ways. You will resent your partner because he/she doesn’t care (perceived) about you and your feelings. You will also resent yourself, because whenever we don’t stand up for our feelings and sweep our feelings under the rug, we give ourselves up. Just a tiny little bit, but in aggregate it will matter.
Resentment will lead to hate, and hate will lead to open hostility. You probably know of a few examples where you can see this. Couples (often older ones from my experience) will be pretty mean to each other. At least one person is. You can see how they interrupt each other while talking, roll one’s eyes, or being outright mean in the language they use to refer to each other.
The question for you is: do you want to live like that?
I know that I don’t want to live like that. So what would it mean to openly talk about our problems? Big or small?
Let me start with the expectations again. When we love someone, we place a lot of trust in them. For example, we trust them that they know and understand ourselves. But what if we don’t really understand ourselves? And, more important, did we really tell our partner everything about us? I bet not. This means that we put an expectation on our partner that she/he is already set up to fail. We also expect them to love us unconditionally. That is also what we tell ourselves. We love our partner without condition. But do we really? I think that as long as we don’t love ourselves unconditionally, we have a hard time loving someone else unconditionally. But instead of being aware of this and therefore being kind towards ourselves and our partner, we are disappointed with ourselves and our partner. The end result is we still not talk to each other.
Talking openly is difficult. Very difficult. And oh my god it can be painful. But the pain is there. No matter if we talk about it or not. If we don’t talk about it, the pain will lead to resentment. If we do talk about it this pain can transform into something beautiful. It is not only a healthier way to deal with our feelings, but when you can have an open, honest AND kind conversation with your partner, this can lead to a mutual understanding and therefore bringing the both of you closer together.
Yes, I know that being vulnerable is scary. We don’t want to come across as mean, or ungrateful or complaining in fear we frighten off our partner. However, if your partner loves you, he/she will at least try to understand. I also recognize that sometimes such talks might not go over without one or both being a little hurt or huffy afterwards. But, given a little time, both will know how important it was and will be stronger for it.
So please, don’t let a not-held discussion about dirty dishes be the downfall of your relationship! I am exaggerating of course, but there is a kernel of truth in it. And it is never too late. Start small and start with how much you value, appreciate, and love each other.
Take care, Stephan