eMail Bag: Our communication is not like it used to be…

I am reading your book Before You Get Engaged and I love it, but I have a question. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for four years and we are talking about getting engaged. When our relationship first started, we talked about everything. But now when we talk , I feel that our communication is not like heart-to-heart deep talk. We seem to talk about surface things most of the time. And there are a lot of things that we just don’t talk about because we disagree about them. What can we do? – JoAnne

Hi Joanne,

It’s great to hear from you and I am delighted to know you are finding Before You Get Engaged helpful. As to your question, you are right on track with what I would encourage you to seek – heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul communication. For this to happen each of you must be able to:

  1. Share your heart with each other – without holding back, yet in a loving way
  2. Feel that you are heard and understood 
  3. When there is a disagreement, find a solution that makes both of you feel like you got a win-win 

There are only five ways to handle a conflict:

  1. Win – you are right, the other person is wrong
  2. Yield – you give in to what the other wants, even though you don’t agree or may not want it 
  3. Withdraw – you walk out or refuse to talk about it 
  4. Compromise – both of you give up what you would really like to find a solution in the middle 
  5. Resolve – this is the best – both of you feel really good about the answer or solution 

In order for you to build intimate communication you need to be able to talk about your differences openly, with understanding and while carefully listening to the other’s desire with the goal of resolving the issue, or at the very least finding a compromise. Anything less than that will not tie your hearts together in love.

I’d suggest talking with each other about the above ways that you handle your differences and see if you can agree on seeking the best solutions. Then you have to decide if you really want to work toward this kind of outcome through openness and understanding. If you both do, then give it some time and see if you can make it work. If not, this is a flag that should tell you not to get engaged. Then you’d have to decide if you should keep working on your relationship or move on and thank God for the four years you had together.

I hope that helps,

Dr. Dave