Spouse or Stranger?

By

Spouse or Stranger?
According to Science Daily, a professor of psychology at Williams College put together an experiment

Did you know that spouses sometimes communicate no better than strangers?? According to Science Daily, a professor of psychology at Williams College put together an experiment where two sets of couples sat in chairs with their backs to each other and tried to discern the meaning of each other's ambiguous phrases. “The spouses consistently overestimated their ability to communicate, and did so more with their partners than with strangers.”

Most people in any sort of relationship know, whether it's a friendship, dating relationship, marriage, or long-term partnership, it takes good communication to make things work and flow relatively smoothly! So to consider that we might get our point across just as well to someone we don't know at all, versus someone who knows us intimately, is a bit disturbing. What makes the study striking says the professor who conducted it, is that the spouse who was communicating was more confident that they would be understood by their partner than by the stranger, but in reality often weren't.

When I help couples communicate – whether in every day situation or in challenging disagreements and more painful parts of life – I encourage them to use what I call Smart Heart Skills and Dialogue, and talk about in my book Make Up, Don't Break Up.

When I instruct couples to use Smart Heart Dialogue, it's as a way to move beyond the anger and blame that typically is placed when an argument or disagreement comes to a stalemate, but it can and should be used in day-to-day communication as a way to practice truly listening to your partner, and as a way to provide a safe place for each person to share what's on their mind. The Smart Heart skills & dialogue is the glue to keep a relationship new!

Additionally, utilizing this type of dialogue is important in learning to fight fair as a couple. Fighting and disagreeing are not bad things, in themselves. Learn how to fight fair. It's a misperception that fighting is bad; a relationship without passion enough to launch arguments likely won't last for the long haul. However, arguing in the wrong way can also drive a relationship into the ground. I encourage having a weekly ten minute “Smart heart”-to-heart with a figurative emotional "bullet proof vest" to protect from hurt, anger and defensiveness, as you listen and echo back what you heard.

This type of discussion can open up the doors to putting the emotionality of a certain topic aside – whether it be finances, life decisions, career changes, fidelity, or a host of other things – and allow the couple to be honest with each other in a safe, loving space. Of course, this doesn't mean that each person has a right to be angry and hurtful – quite the opposite. This exercise is designed to take the heated emotion out of a discussion so that the couple can share their feelings without a threat of emotion or anger getting thrown in the mix.

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Dr. Bonnie Weil

Author

Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil
Relationship and Family Therapist
info@doctorbonnie.com 
http://www.doctorbonnie.com

Location: New York, NY
Credentials: PhD
Other Articles/News by Dr. Bonnie Weil:

The Science Of Love: Can Opposites Really Attract?

By

From sparks flying when your fingers touch to electric waves running down your spine, we all know the little signs to look for when it comes to falling in love. It's only natural to feel something for someone after spending so much time together and finding out that you share the same interests. But what happens when you fall for someone who is your ... Read more

How Do I Avoid Being Too Controlling In My Marriage?

By

There's a thin line between suggesting your spouse do something and demanding they do it. The latter is considered controlling behavior and that is a major no-no in marriage.  Marriage therapist Dr. Bonnie Weil explains why you shouldn't attempt to control your spouse and what ultimately happens when you try.  Watch the video to learn ... Read more

Marriage: Help! My Husband Always Humiliates Me In Public

By

Does your significant other leave you blushing and speechless in public? Are you sick of your relationship being a continuous awkward moment? Embarrassing your husband or wife in public is a social and relationship no-no. Marriage therapist Dr. Bonnie Weil explains the importance of staying honest (behind closed doors). “Honesty can be cruelty; you ... Read more

See More

GET MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS IN YOUR INBOX!

Sign up for our daily email and get the stories everyone is talking about.

Ask The Experts

Have a dating or relationship question?
Visit Ask YourTango and let our experts and community answer.

FROM AROUND THE WEB