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Communication Advice Article

Are You and Your Spouse in a Communication Conundrum? Here's What to Do Next...

By Susie and Otto Collins

A conundrum is "anything that puzzles," according to the dictionary.

When you and your mate are in a disagreement and neither of you can figure out what the other one is really saying, this is a communication conundrum.

And, truth be told, sometimes, neither of you really wants to truly figure out what the other one is saying.

You two might hold radically different views about how to manage your money. One of you might tend to save, save, and save some more for the future while the other one wants to live it up a bit right

It could be that you and your spouse approach parenting in what seem like oppositional ways. You think that your kids need more structure and boundaries and your mate insists that they need less.

Or, maybe you and your partner have vastly different sex drives. He would like to make love every single night and you just aren't in the mood that often.

Regardless of what the issue is about which you and your mate disagree, part of what keeps the conflict going (and intensifying) is the fact that neither of you can (or is willing to) understand where the other one is coming from.

Agreeing to disagree doesn't always ease the tension.
A resolution for whatever the topic is might appear to be an impossibility and so you two decide to "agree to disagree."

Agreeing to disagree is sometimes effective for a couple when it comes to these communication conundrums.

After all, it certainly isn't helping your marriage to hash out each of your "sides" continuously and without either of you budging from your own position.

However, there are times when agreeing to disagree is just another way to say that, essentially, "We can't agree on this and we're going to stop talking about it. But, we're not going to stop holding this
disagreement against one another."

You two might not be discussing or arguing about the kids, money, sex or some other topic, but you continue to close down to one another. Your connection is significantly-- and negatively-- affected.

You can disagree, but don't disengage.
It is usually wise to continue to talk about even those issues about which you and your mate do not see eye-to-eye. The key here is to let yourselves disagree with one another (if that's how you truly
feel), but don't disengage.

When you disengage, you are indicating to your partner that you are basically shutting down and won't even be attempting to understand what he or she is trying to tell you regarding this topic.

In other words, you aren't really going to listen.

When you listen to your mate in an engaged way, you stay open-- even if you don't see things the same way and even if you don't intend to
change your mind.

You place your connection with your partner ABOVE
being right or "winning" the debate.

And, when you listen in an engaged manner, you allow yourself to gain a clearer and more accurate understanding of where your partner is coming from.

Again, you might still disagree, but the respect and
bond between you and your spouse remain intact because there is greater understanding.

Engaged listening opens you up to solutions where you both "win."
There can be some really difficult scenarios that arise in your marriage. These might pertain to values that you hold deeply and have held for a long, long time.

You might even question your whole relationship because you and your mate cannot find a resolution that serves both of you about this subject.

If you find yourself in such a situation, we advise you to take a step back and go within yourself.

Get clear about what is most important to you about this topic and really focus in on the issue at hand.

For example, don't let a tense decision that needs to be made about your children stray into your
resentments about something that happened solely between you and your partner.

Set aside any beliefs that you might have that to understand your partner's perspective you will have to "give up" your own ideas or "give in" to him or her.

Remind yourself that you can connect with your mate by listening in an engaged way and also stay true to

Be on the lookout for places where your now-expanded understanding of your mate's views overlaps with your own.

This is where you will find the solutions where you both can feel satisfied.
For information to help you communicate for deeper connection and love--especially when it's difficult, visit



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Contact Info
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins, PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling (614) 568-8282.
For all other inquiries, contact us by email.

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