Conventional wisdom argues that improving communication between romantic partners is the key to understanding each other, resolving conflict, and deepening the level of intimacy and closeness in the relationship. Communication in this context refers to "conscious" communication, i.e., putting your thoughts and feelings into words that you share with your partner.
Couple therapy is often geared toward helping each partner in a distressed relationship express how the other makes him/her feel, in what situations, and why. Psychotherapists often emphasize the necessity of exploring ongoing problems and dynamics, unpacking these in great detail in therapy sessions, and "dialoguing" about them, so that the partners become more fully aware of what is happening within and between them.
The assumption here seems to be: if we learn to communicate better, we will have a better relationship.
Surprisingly, this is rarely if ever the case! I see client after client who strives to communicate to their significant other more directly and candidly, something that for many of them is often difficult to do. But when they finally find the words, explaining to their partner how they really feel, it almost always produces nothing new or positive. In fact, it often makes one's partner become more defensive, annoyed, and/or withdrawn, ultimately
making the problems in the relationship even more entrenched and resistant to change.
The unfortunate truth is that conscious communication doesn't really help and usually makes things worse. Talk is cheap! We have gone overboard, I believe, on the idea that relationships will improve by attempts to become more aware of each other's feelings and to explore repetitive dynamics -- in essence, to live more "consciously."
In the next meeting of the Dating and Relationship Group on Saturday, June 17, 2017 (12:00 to 1:15 PM),
I will introduce the importance of unconscious communication in romantic love and in all relationships. In my view, the ability to communicate unconsciously is the missing concept in most discussions of romantic love, attraction, sexual desire, and co-dependent/narcissistic dynamics. The capacity to speak to another's unconscious initiates "distillation," the catalyst for desire, relatedness, and mutuality that is, ironically, hindered by more conscious, verbal communication efforts.