It’s a known research fact that no more than 7% of what we are saying verbally gets understood by the person we are talking to (Albert Mehrabian, 1971) .
The remaining percentages go to tone and body language and that’s often misread by people, especially those that don’t know you. Quite frankly it’s a miracle that we feel understood by our partner in any conversation. Given this fact, it’s imperative that couples talk and talk often to have a successful relationship. If it’s your nature not to communicate and to just expect your partner to guess how you are feeling, they will very seldom get this exactly right. We often default to a very gender biased adage that men never understand what a woman is saying even when she is saying it, let alone when she is not saying it and expects him to guess through her body language. For the record this happens both ways and we can’t stereotype any biological gender or gender identification. As relationship therapists we advocate that your partner must never be expected to guess. That is not only unfair but very dangerous as they will get it wrong most of the time and you will always feel misunderstood
We are not saying that only couples who ‘communicate’ well will be successful. What we are saying is that an understanding of the need to communicate is vital, and that you will need to develop a mutual understanding of how you communicate as a couple. It’s the positive attitude toward communication that counts. There are many happy couples who battle to string well-constructed sentences together but in their way they connect and have a positive attitude towards attempting to communicate and so it works for them. There are also many successful couples who have only one partner who initiates communication and sees the need to have frequent connection. The secret to their success is that the partner who is less capable does their best to reciprocate when the conversation is presented and they meet minds at their accepted and workable level.
In summary, improving communication certainly helps any relationship but it’s not the lack of communication skills that causes the breakdown, it’s the unwillingness to make an attempt and to try and participate when your partner tries to connect.