Get Yours!<br />
Communication Breakdown

When couples stop talking, they stop trusting. Here’s how to keep your flow going strong or salvage it if it’s strained so you and the one you love can GET YOURS together, forever!

 This month, a reader wants to know how to reconnect with her mate.

Q: My husband and I don’t seem to talk anymore. We used to be so close, but now I sense us drifting apart. How can we get past this and regain the love we shared?

A: The inability to communicate with the one you love is the No. 1 relationship wrecker, as far as I’m concerned. It was certainly the ruin of my former marriage. Stressful work schedules and the demands of parenthood compounded the problem, but at the root of our divorce was a lack of emotional honesty.

Although we never intend to hurt the ones we love, human beings can be selfish and insensitive. When on the receiving end of such cruelty, some of us go inward. We pretend to forgive on the surface when inside we’re still bruised. Others lash out, striking back verbally. Either way, the actual issue—how the injured party truly feels— is never expressed or addressed.

You’ll start to feel that you can’t tell your partner anything, that you cannot be vulnerable and show who you are at your core. In short, you’ll no longer feel emotionally safe. I know I didn’t.

But life comes with lessons, and I’m building, in my new relationship, a foundation of trust and honesty by expressing myself openly, no matter what. Here’s an example: Recently, my boyfriend and I were at lunch, and he started teasing me about a sensitive topic. As much as I enjoy this guy’s rapier wit, his comments hurt my feelings. In the past, I might have acted as if I didn’t care and swallowed the pain with a bite of my salad. Or in a different mood, I might have made my own snarky remark.

Instead, I wanted to use this incident to create a more caring, loving partner and a more communicative, mutually respectful relationship. I wanted him to know why I was hurt so that he might remember to be more sensitive in the future.

Calmly, I told him that his aggressive humor was hurtful. It made me feel foolish, belittled and, worst of all, as if I couldn’t share my true self with him. He was making me afraid to be me.
It took a few seconds to sink in, but then he said the two most important words a man or woman can say to his/her partner, and they’re not “I do.” They are, “I understand.”

How to get yours!

TODAY: Think about whether you feel emotionally safe with your partner. If not, why not? What’s making you afraid to be your absolute true self?

THIS YEAR: Invite your partner to a conversation about your relationship, a mutually open and honest exchange. Be ready to listen to what he or she finds upsetting or challenging.

FOR LIFE:Be vigilant in your commitment to honesty. You’re asking for trouble the moment you begin to stifle rather than to speak what’s on your mind and in your heart.   
 

Amy DuBois Barnett is the Editor-In-Chief of EBONY Magazine. Email her at amy@ebony.com, follow her on Twitter at @amydbarnett, and Instagram at @amyduboisbarnett.