It is not always easy to communicate well with your partner, and it is more complicated than simply an exchange of words. Communicating with your partner is about relating to him or her; it is about two people openly sharing who they are with one another in ways that are not critical or judgmental. It can be difficult, however, to say what you mean or share what you are feeling, especially when you know that what you have to say might be hard for your partner to hear. When you feel constrained in your ability to be open in this way, there may be negative consequences that follow. Although it may seem better in the moment to hold it in, be mindful of the long-term impact that choosing to do that can have. Below are 6 things that can happen when you are not being open and honest with your partner.
- 1. Honesty is withheld. When you are not talking with your partner about what you experience (the good, the bad, and everything in between), in some ways you are not being honest. Some part of your reality is not being acknowledged, and your partner is left in the dark about what is really going on for you. Being open allows your partner to know the real you, which is one of the joys of a healthy relationship.
- 2. Resentment may build. Resentment occurs when you feel as though, time and again, your needs are not being met. When you have not shared your thoughts or feelings with your partner, however, he or she simply cannot know how to give you what you need.
- 3. You feel stuck in the past. When you are not open about what is important to you, it can feel like there is unfinished business from that past that needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, this can interfere with your ability to be present. It can keep you from enjoying what is happening in the moment or developing new, adaptive ways to interact with your partner.
- 4. It can limit the ways you experience yourself or your partner. When you are only revealing part of your experience to your partner, you are limiting the kinds of responses you receive. For example, when you do not tell your partner when you feel hurt by something he or she does, you may end up thinking that your partner is just an insensitive person. The way you experience yourself and your partner is shaped in part by your willingness to be open and honest.
- 5. You and your partner may feel disconnected and distant. Connection and closeness between couples is developed when both partners share who they really are with one another. If you do not know your partner, you will not be able to find where you can connect. Sharing feedback, thoughts, and feelings is a way to reveal yourself to your partner and grow closer. If this is not happening in your relationship, you may feel the distance between you grow.
- 6. You may feel stressed. Think about how much time and energy you expend thinking and worrying about what you should have said or what someone else really meant. Not giving your partner feedback or holding back your thoughts and feelings can generate more stress in your life.
Contributed by Rachel Goldsmith, Therapist