- Dimitar Belchev / Unsplash
- Couples that communicate better stay together.
- But many people start conversations harshly without even realising it.
- A new relationship health app called Lasting aims to help couples have healthier, happier relationships.
- The founder, Steven Dziedzic, told Business Insider some of the traps couples can easily fall into.
Communication in any relationship is super important, but it’s something many people struggle with.
It could be that you’re anxious about making the right impression, or you could fear intimacy and getting close to someone.
A new marriage health app called Lasting recently surveyed 75,000 married couples, and only 27% of them said they were satisfied with how they communicated with each other. 64% also said their partner wasn’t a good listener.
Psychologist John Gottman has claimed he can predict with 90% accuracy whether a couple will get divorced just by listening to their first three minutes of conversation. In healthy marriages, couples maintain a 5-to-1 positivity ratio during a discussion, meaning for every negative comment or gesture, there are five ones.
In marriages heading for divorce, that ratio is a stark 0.8 to 1, so there are more negatives than positives.
Steven Dziedzic, the founder of the Lasting app, told Business Insider that there are some traps that couples fall into when they try and talk to their partner.
Your partner rarely knows what you’re thinking or feeling
“First, people make the mistake of thinking that their partners already know what they want or need,” he said. “Trust me: your partner rarely knows what you’re thinking or feeling, much less what you need. That’s why partners need to express their needs clearly and positively to one another: so that their partners truly understand how they feel and are empowered to help meet their need.”
Another mistake is not thinking about how to start a discussion, Dziedzic said.
“This results in many conversations beginning harshly due to tone, volume, or words used – or a combination of all three,” he said “When a conversation begins harshly, the other person is put into a defensive position – and when someone feels defensive, there’s almost no way for them to respond positively.”
In fact, if you start a conversation in a negative light, Dziedzic said they found that there is a 96% chance it will end badly too.
Most bad conversations start because there is a negative emotion due to unmet needs, such as loneliness or the feeling of being let down. For example, you want to connect with your partner more, or you’re upset they don’t understand you better.
“In this way, each of your emotions can help guide both of you to an underlying relationship need,” Dziedzic said. “That’s why it’s vital to start a conversation by communicating your emotions and your needs to your partner: because your partner can’t help meet your need unless they understand what you need.”
The best thing you can do is communicate how you feel and what you need, Dziedzic said, and to start gently – don’t go into a discussion guns blazing.
Essentially, it’s about emotional connection, which Dziedzic says is the biggest predictor that a couple won’t work out.
“Marriages are determined by the thousands of tiny moments in which the partners try to connect with one another,” he said. “These moments can be simple, like ‘How do I look?’ or ‘How was your day?’ Or, they can be complex and nuanced, like a heated disagreement.
“Regardless, healthy couples respond positively in 86% of these moments with one another, while unhealthy couples, who eventually get divorced, respond positively only 33% of the time. Simply put, the partners’ emotional responsiveness is the strongest predictor of divorce.”
Those couples who can talk to each other, bring up issues, and stay curious about each other’s thoughts and feelings will find it a lot easier to have positive conversations, and ultimately stay together in the long run.