Countless couples seek out new methods to improve the communication in relationships. They consciously reach out to experts, read books or research on techniques and strategies that can enable them to learn new relationship skills and strengthen their bond, on account of revitalized effortless communication. However, if communication alone could pave the path for creating, building and sustaining meaningful relationships, wouldn’t we have more of these around? Or even an enviable number of couples across the globe you could seek out for the go-to communication advice that ticks? Since neither of those things are a reality (check the statistics), it is, perhaps, safe to say that people on the lookout for a magical ‘communication’ spell that can radically transform their bonds into meaningful relationships are on a fool’s errand. The problem with the whole quest is that it is based on the erroneous assumption that ‘effortless communication’ is the source rather than outcome of healthy, meaningful relationships.
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So, if you want me to say it aloud, here it is-
Good communication isn’t the source of deep, intimate relationships but is both a feature and an outcome of a healthy relationship. If you wish to forge a more deeper, intimate and loving bond with your partner and feel that it could be a function of improved communication, you have set the variables in your equation wrong. Needless to add, you wouldn’t get the desired output. And I am not bluffing.
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Researchers at the University of Georgia have mapped the correlation between communication and relationship satisfaction of couples and reported that positive, energized and lasting relationships had no dependent correlation with communication patterns. They found that good communication in relationships, in itself, could not account for relationship satisfaction levels over time. The researchers recognized that there are multiple factors that influence a couple’s overall satisfaction levels in the relationship and that these factors can, in turn, account for improved communication.
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Justin Lavner, the lead author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, averred that couples who are more satisfied in their relationships communicate better than those who are less satisfied. In an inversion of the original popular assumption he said, “In general … the more satisfied you are, basically, the better you communicate.” He also added that communication didn’t play any significant role in being a predictor of relationship satisfaction.
It was more common for satisfaction to predict communication than the reverse … satisfaction was a stronger predictor of communication. These links have not been talked about as much. We have focused on communication predicting satisfaction instead.”
No wonder, then, that couples who seem intent on improving the quality of their relationship by proactively improving communication techniques come up empty. Relationship satisfaction, in general, seems more dependent on less tangible attributes like the wavelengths of the two partners and how they engage with each other on the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual planes in order to sustain vitality and intimacy at all levels and at all times.
The link between positive relationships and a person’s well being and happiness levels isn’t a new one in discourse. Several studies have mapped the relation and pointed out that positive relationships enhance one’s mental and emotional well-being whilst bolstering one’s overall levels of happiness. Studies published in the Journal of Family Psychology, Health Psychology and Social Personality and Psychological Science have all evinced the positive impact of healthy relationships on health.
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Of course, creating, building and sustaining meaningful relationships is an uphill task. But it is something that one can get a grip on with consistent practice. A close examination of yourself in the relationship and how you respond to your partner can help you identify if you are in sync with each other’s ‘vision’ for the relationship, moving steadily and in tandem for ‘evolving’ with the relationship. It can also help you recognize potential gaps in understanding and identify if you are on the same page about closing them and sustaining the relationship you’ve built together.
Researchers at the University of Georgia propose a theory of radical transparency to establish a solid foundation upon for a relationship to thrive. This theory of radical transparency for building meaningful relationships involves:
- Being radically open with your partner about YOURSELF by shedding all inhibitions and defensive feelings about any secrets and working your way through your qualms about opening up
- Being radically open and receptive to your partner’s reality and the consequent differences from your own. This includes identification of his/her feelings, wishes, desires, visions, fears and the differences from your own. This step would involve an active encouragement on your part so your partner can open up, and vice versa
The study evinces a positive correlation between kind honesty and relationship satisfaction and finds that couples who are transparent with their partners experience higher levels of relationship intimacy, connection and satisfaction than those who tend to bottle their emotions, have an avoidant style of communication and focus on negativity, accusation and judgment in their communication.
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Contrary to popular perception, radical transparency isn’t a threat to your relationship and allows for both of you to be able to establish a strong foundation for it. In essence, it allows for you to lay bare your whole self- including your fears, desires, secrets, hopes and the entire spectrum of your emotional experience- so your partner can see you for who you are and love you for it. And isn’t that what we want from our relationships, anyway?
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