The biggest mistake most couples commit

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By Mary Mae Miral, RN

LOVE and belongingness are human needs pointed out in Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs.” It talks about friendship, intimacy, affection and love that we achieve through our relationship with our family, loved ones, friends, special someone or with a work group. In other words, it is about the need for human relationships. If you fail to fulfill this need, then you would have trouble accomplishing the next need on the ladder, which is “esteem needs.”

Being in a good relationship can take you to the pinnacle of happiness. However, in any stage of your life, you also would encounter heartbreak, disappointment, anxiety, anger, fear and several awful emotions from failure of relationships.

Oftentimes, you may ask yourself,  “Where did I go wrong?” or “Why did my relationship fail?” However, when relationships don’t work out, you also may resort to the “blame game.” Who’s to blame? Then, everybody just points fingers at each other.

I also reflected several times about why relationships fail. Many factors filled up my list, but what struck me most was the word “listen.” We frequently fail to listen, that’s why our relationships fail.

We resist listening to spoken word

Think of the last argument you had with any of your loved ones. Let us say with your husband. Do you still remember any of your husband’s statements from that argument? If your answer is “no,” he also doesn’t remember any of your points in that argument. Why? Because, when we are at the peak of our emotions, we become resistant to other people’s opinions, particularly when it is conflicting with our personal interest.

That is why it is not a good idea to discuss hot issues when you are emotional. You end up being overly defensive and you opt not to listen to anybody’s opinion against your stand. It is difficult to convey an essential message to someone who “doesn’t want to listen.”

When I get into an argument with someone, I often ask “Are you listening?” or“Are you willing to listen?”

Some people would directly tell you, “No” or “Yes” while other people just don’t say anything.

Three common behaviors of people who don’t want to listen:

If a person keeps nagging or mumbling while you are trying to explain something, that’s an indication your message is not reaching his ears. If that person is silent, but keeps himself busy while you’re trying to convey something, don’t push it; the communication line is closed. If that person walks out during a discussion, that’s pretty obvious.

How about you? How do you behave when you don’t want to listen?

The point is no matter what you say or how loud your voice is, it would seem you haven’t talked at all if nobody wants to listen. And this is a critical point in a relationship because effective communication is one of the major keys in a successful relationship. Take note that communication is a two-way process. If one speaks, the other should listen and vice versa.

We fail to listen to our own word

It is not just your failure to listen to other people that hinders success in your relationship, your ability to listen to your own words also matters most.

When you speak, do you listen to yourself?

I remember someone told me, “a sharp knife can cut your flesh and leave you a physical scar, but a harsh word can leave an open wound in your heart for a lifetime.”

Well, we keep words in our mind and heart, particularly when it’s from someone so significant, whether it’s a message of love or hatred. It matters. So be careful with every word you say to your loved ones, particularly when you have had a bad day or when you are mad.  You might regret if you carelessly utter a painful statement, because you never can take it back.

Relationships usually fail when nobody cares about choosing the right word in a conversation or even during an argument. When we are mad, we become irrational. We just say whatever comes into our minds, without even understanding the context.

Listen to yourself before you even say a single word. Does it sound ironic? Actually, it’s not. Our mouth speaks what our mind thinks about. Listen to your mind…then you will understand what I mean. If your thoughts are unkind, then keep your mouth shut. Think several times if your words would do good to anyone or cause harm.

We shut our ears from unspoken word

Not everybody is verbally expressive and even extrovert individuals have unspoken words at times. Do not neglect gestures and behaviors. Remember, actions speak louder than words.

Sometimes, you are clueless about why your loved one is acting strange. Be a keen observer and find out what’s going on. You might need to fix something between the two of you.  

There are times when we don’t notice these behavioral changes. We realize something is wrong when it’s too late, right after someone already has burst into anger. Therefore, familiarize yourself with your loved one’s behavioral pattern. Any deviation from the usual conveys a hidden, but important, message.

Listening to unspoken words means being sensitive enough to other people’s needs, emotions and behavior. Learn to know the indications when someone is happy, excited, mad, disappointed, or irritable or whatever emotion could that be. Learn to read facial expression, voice tone or pitch, eye movement, hand gesture and other body language.  When you master the art of listening to unspoken words, then you easily will know when to comfort someone who is feeling blue. It wouldn’t be hard for you to empathize with your loved one’s feelings even without a word being spoken.

Anyway, how would you feel if nobody understood what you’ve been going through and you couldn’t just express how you really feel? That sums up everything!

Don’t let your relationship flop again. Stop committing the same mistake. Learn to listen.

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