Welcome to our Friday series for couples, filled with mouth-watering food pictures and insightful relationship tips, because we all know that after a while, it’s all about the food when it comes to long-term relationships.
Have you ever felt like you are not being heard or listened to, not able to speak up when needed and not able to voice your frustration? These are difficult issues in a relationship that will often lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, which in turn can easily lead to depression and chronic unhappiness in a relationship.
Although it’s easy to blame the partner for “not letting us speak up”, the truth is that speaking up is our own responsibility, but one that’s been either discouraged or encouraged in childhood.
A consistent pattern of not speaking up is a sign of a passive communication style. A passive communicator is naturally inclined or has developed a habit of avoiding expressing his or her feelings, thoughts, and opinions.
Can you relate to some of these? Or do you know someone that does?
Some less obvious signature moves include playing the victim or being a martyr, whining, shutting down, and putting walls up.
Some verbal ways of expressing yourself may include being hesitant, with pauses, beating-around-the-bush, overly soft, and apologizing often.
Some non-verbal characteristics are looking down, slouched posture, lip biting, crossing arms, fake smiles when expressing anger or being criticized, and covering the mouth with a hand.
Most of the time, you are truly focused on pleasing or accommodating others and avoiding conflict. You could perhaps describe yourself as hypersensitive, but you may often ignore your own feelings, cover them up, or rationalize that your feelings are not a big deal. At times, you may take too much responsibility, which unfortunately could also result in being blamed, and worse, verbally and emotionally abused.
But we all have a limit. In time, the unfulfilled grievances could build up and cause you to “blow up” in an extreme manner. But that’s not really you. You will likely feel extremely ashamed and guilty after such an explosive episode, which will only reinforce the need to go back to being passive.
It’s hard to determine how you developed this communication style, but most likely, you grew up thinking that you would be punished for speaking the truth or voicing your opinions.
If you find yourself in this category, please remember this one thing: “unspoken expectations ALWAYS get relationships in trouble”. More importantly, with some work and a little bit of therapy support, you can change, and become the assertive person you fantasize about becoming.
Have you ever had this experience? Or know someone that does? If you want to know more about your communication style, follow the series on Facebook and check out our free Marriage & Relationship Resource Center to learn how to communicate effectively with your spouse.
ABOUT: Dr. Ruxandra LeMay is a private practice psychologist in Litchfield Park, Arizona with experience in family therapy, ADHD, stress and anxiety management, and executive coaching. She is the author of My Spouse Wants More Sex Than Me: The 2-Minute Solution For a Happier Marriage. Click HERE to check out her free resources on effective communication, emotional unavailability, intimacy, and anxiety management or join her at www.ruxandralemay.com for monthly blog posts.