An open line of communication is said to be one of the essentials when it comes to sustaining a relationship. Both partners should make efforts to speak up and listen to each other, not only to ward off misunderstandings but to be in sync of each other’s needs, aspirations and the changes which are happening in their lives, outside of the relationship. You partner may be facing issues at work, or may have had a tiff with a long standing friend. Perhaps they had a nasty encounter at the bus stop, or saw an incident which riled them. Maybe they are just feeling low and want to avoid social engagements. Maybe they feel stifled at home and have been yearning to take a short trip for a while now. How does one know what one’s partner wants? Easy, they tell you. Or rather, you encourage them to tell you. Lack of communication can damage a relationship permanently. A lifestyle website ran a poll among 100 mental health professionals, which found that communication problems were cited as the most common factor that led to divorce (65 percent), followed by couples’ inability to resolve conflict (43 percent).
- A lot of women tend to grow quieter as a marriage progresses.
- While there is a common stereotype that women talk more than men, do women talk more on every subject?
- How many women discuss money matters our voice their opinions on politics and sports which challenge those of their husband?
- Do women grow quite from fear of rebuttal or ridicule?
However, a lot of women tend to stay silent in relationships, often holding back desires and grudges, which concentrate over time into resentment towards their partners.
There is this stereotyping that women are talkative, and it latches on to our relationships as well. Women are touted to be “chatter-boxes” who talk non-stop. But is that true? As long term relationships, mostly marriages, progress, a lot of women grow increasingly silent. They talk, yes, but it is what they talk about and what they don’t and when, that we need to inspect more closely. When it comes to drawing-room conversations, I don’t see a lot of women challenging their partner’s views on subjects like sports, politics or economics even today. Is it that they don’t know much, or is it that they have been conditioned into believing that men, especially their partners know better than them on said subjects? Or is it that their partners take offence in being challenged, and the act brings women repercussions outside of the drawing rooms? Or is it all of this and much more?
And then there is the silence in their relationships on a personal level. When women swallow hurt and hide desires, sexual, economical or even romantic in nature, out of fear of being rebuffed or ridiculed. Mostly though the silence envelopes them gradually as their demands go unheard. What is the point of saying anything when your partner doesn’t care to listen? This is where the age old stereotyping of women talk too much and men don’t like to listen comes into play. It is natural for women to demand, and it is natural for men to not listen and talk (read converse) less. Aren’t men from Mars and women from Venus? But eventually it is the relationship which pays the price of these stereotypes and partners grow distant.
But a radio silence in a relationship is never good. The blame doesn’t lie on the men entirely for not listening to their partners, but on women too, for not having enough conviction in their own words. The minute our words go unheard, doubt creeps upon us. Are what we saying too unimportant? Or wrong? Do we seriously not know enough to discuss certain topics with our partners? Then there’s the issue of mansplaining where women experience constant interruption from their partners while speaking on anything, which women interpret as a condescending attitude.
We need to understand that men are conditioned to feel that their opinion is of greater value, that their inputs are relevant, which most of the time indeed are. But there are times when a wife doesn’t want her husband to fix things for her by offering a suggestion, or imparting knowledge. Perhaps she just wants to vent, to get certain things out of her system. Similarly, men need to let go of their conditioning and learn to value their partner’s opinion. Just because it doesn’t resonate with them, doesn’t mean that it may be incorrect.
The channel of conversation in any relationship works two ways. So women’s silence begets us to ask, is no one listening?
Picture Credit: NewLoveTimes
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.