Why Paul Watzlawicks ‘One cannot not communicate“ is applying as well to marriage

By 23. Juli 2018 No Comments

The way that partners communicate with one another reflects the state of their marriage. To use the words of Paul Watzlawick, ‘One cannot not communicate. Every behaviour is a form of communication. Because behaviour does not have a counterpart (there is no anti-behaviour), it is impossible not to communicate.’

After the initial honeymoon phase, many couples become less disposed towards intense communication. Day-to-day life is shaped by work, children, household tasks and finances. Instead of talking with one another, partners often talk past each other. Women don’t always say what they are thinking, instead expecting that their partners will be able to ‘read between the lines’. They also want to talk about feelings in their relationship and get things off their chest.

Men often grapple with these issues on their own and can be less receptive to talking about difficulties. However, when their partner withdraws in this way, women can feel excluded. They see their partner’s silence as a kind of punishment and are hurt. The number of inter-partner conflicts increases when there is a lack of communication.

This lead to issues in a marriage. Especially unhappy couples tend to completely avoid conflict and discussion. Someone who isn’t ready to talk, let alone fight, appears to have totally lost interest in their partner. ‘The greater the withdrawal or criticism in a partnership, the greater the likelihood of divorce.’ (cf. John Gottmann, psychologist)

It is completely normal that spouses have different needs in terms of communication, but when one partner demands that the other’s requirements match their own, problems can arise. This can be avoided, but how?

  • Observe how your behaviour influences your partner. Put yourself in their shoes when you criticize them or ignore them.
  • If you don’t feel ready to talk at the same time your partner wishes to discuss problems, make them aware of this and offer a time when you would prefer to speak.
  • Tip for men: be a sensitive listener – look your partner in the eye to show that you are trying to be understanding.
  • Tip for women: make it clear what you need and don’t expect that your partner will be able to guess or sense what you want from them.
  • Take time as a couple and discuss your respective feelings and needs in a relaxed atmosphere.

It you are looking for more individual help for targeted partner communication, Only1life can assist you. Don’t hesitate. The path to a divorce attorney is much more challenging than to Only1life or a couples‘ therapist.

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