Are they willing to do the work that is necessary for basic decent communication? Many couples are not willing to do the basics.
Ask yourself, “Are we the type of couple that’s willing to work for what we get?”
“Do we want it just handed to us? Do we feel like we’re entitled to a good relationship without doing the necessary work?”
I’ve worked with many couples on their communication to improve their ability to talk to one another in a meaningful and loving way.
In a way that’s not attacking or violence.
In a way that’s not aggressive or hurtful.
I usually use the expression “don’t pull the pin out of the grenade, throw it at your partner and then say that partner is a bad listener.”
Usually when there’s a problem it’s because someone doesn’t want to listen. There are feelings that come up that block the listening.
Or they’re feeling a little bit on the selfish side and they can’t put their own needs on the back burner.
They make it about them instead of about us. This is common- it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the person, it just means they don’t have a habit of putting the other person‘s needs first.
They don’t have the habit of trying on the other person‘s perspective, having empathy, and compassion. They might have the skill and the ability to do it from time to time but they’re not in the habit of doing it on a regular basis.
A marriage requires that you do that almost daily if not daily.
When the person chooses not to listen, or goes into talking about their own needs and putting their own needs first, the message they’re giving the other person is really bad. What we want to do is we want to work with that and say, “I want to understand you. I am listening so that I understand what you’re saying. What you have to say is important to me. Your needs matter. You deserve to be listened to. You are a worthy partner.”
To reiterate, the most common place where communication breaks down is when the person chooses not to listen to the person talking.
They have a competing a priority, or they don’t want the other person‘s perspective to win.
They’re not seeing it as a partnership and that one person talks and one person listens.
They think that it’s like normal conversation where it’s back-and-forth. Back-and-forth doesn’t work when there’s strong emotions. One person has to accept the listener role.
Instead what we tend to see is talker- talker, talker- talker, talker- talker, instead of somebody talking and somebody listening.