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When Partners Feel Unheard: Why Communication Is Key for a Healthy Relationship

Sometimes mental health issues can impact the cognitive abilities and counseling alone won't be sufficient.

Published
Mind It
4 min read
When Partners Feel Unheard: Why Communication Is Key for a Healthy Relationship
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The willingness to cultivate honest 'communication' and 'trust' are the two key ingredients for maintaining an actively healthy relationship.

As humans, we are all capable of expressing ourselves through words and actions, yet many of us choose to not communicate and expect our partners to magically read our minds and understand how we feel. Again, we're humans.

I've personally had failed relationships and friendships because of this. Often known as someone who's an "overshare-er" and "too expressive", communicating how I feel articulately has not exactly been a problem, but it does become one when the other person doesn't do the same.

Lack of Communication: The Self-Created Obstruction

"Communication in a relationship is something that can make or break a relationship. Everyone wants to be heard and understood, which is an essential part of what makes us human beings."
Dr Ajith Patra, MBBS, DPM, Medical Expert with Kindly

We tend to feel that we're being taken for granted or our emotions are being invalidated, because the feeling of not being heard is the worst.

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In the book, The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini writes, "And that's the thing about people who mean everything they say, they think everyone else does too."

As heartbreaking as these words might sound, once it sinks in, would you say it's untrue?

"When it doesn't happen, or happens in a way one doesn't expect it to, it leads to anger, frustration, a feeling of being rejected or emotionally dismissed, which further adds fire to the fuel, that is the distance between the couple," said Dr Ajith Patra.

So, why do many people still hesitate to communicate considering most of us are subconsciously aware of what an important role it plays when it comes to working on a relationship?

Is it fear? Anxious hesitation? Or maybe they feel they won't be able to express it the right way.

The other aspect of a relationship is transparency and trust. Lack of communication can induce a sense of fear that the partner has been hiding something from them, further expanding the mistrust.
Dr Ajith Patra, MBBS, DPM, Medical Expert with Kindly
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Strengthening Healthy Communication

What happens when a work brief is unclear? The output isn't as desired and there are multiple changes to be made again and again. It does get frustrating, doesn't it?

In the same way, a one-sided or partially expressed communication in a relationship lacks clarity, leading to clashes or unnecessary obstacles which could've been easily dealt with.

"Healthy communication is something that induces a negotiation or a middle ground for both rather than start a conflict," said Dr Ajith Patra.

He also mentions that healthy communication can start "good conflict" which will help clear misunderstandings and increase the level of trust between the couple, leading to a long-lasting and happy relationship.

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We live in times where many millenials and the younger generation avoid labels, mostly to avoid taking accountability and look at conflict as something 'toxic'.

Because, saying that 'we don't really owe the other person an answer as we're not really together,' is a much easier route to take.

How To Improve Communication & Make Things Work?

Well, I'm no expert here but, according to Dr Ajith Patra, there are two very important ways that could help make room for improvement and work on communicating better:

  • Listening better

  • Being more assertive while communicating

"Listening to the partner without interrupting (unless absolutely required) will definitely make the other person happy as it creates a safety net where they don't feel that their emotions are being invalidated. This will also help the listener to respond without being interrupted or saying something really impulsive," the doctor added.

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"Assertiveness in communication means when a person knows what to speak or communicate effectively while not crossing boundaries or getting derailed by a critical response or blame," said Dr Patra. Saying things like "I feel" are preferred over remarks with negative undertones like "you are" or "you never".

How Can One Help a Partner Who Struggles With Communication?

Not being great at communicating is not always someone's fault or free card for escapism. Many people actually do struggle with putting across their thoughts as words or through actions, and there can be a number of reasons behind it. It could be childhood trauma of being the forever neglected child, it could be fear of losing their significant other due not knowing how to express it the right way, it could be anything.

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"Always listen to what the partner has to speak out without judging them. Let the partner vent out whatever is in their mind without having a fear of being judged by you, afterall we all need our safe space."
Dr Ajith Patra, MBBS, DPM, Medical expert with Kindly

"If you can't give a solution, that's absolutely fine, but don't aggravate the problem by criticising, taunting, or mocking your partner while they're trying to express," said Dr Patra.

In conclusion, Dr Patra said, "If you feel that your partner needs the help of a psychologist, please take them without any hesitation."

Sometimes mental health issues can impact cognitive abilities and counseling alone won't be sufficient, and while medications are helpful in alleviating the condition, what they really need is you.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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