It is a story that many people have heard before: a once strong, loving relationship ends after years because the couple’s ability to communicate deteriorates. Indeed, experts have long known that good communication skills are essential to making any relationship work. A recent survey indicates, too, that poor communication skills are a leading cause of
divorce in the U.S.
The website YourTango.com asked 100 mental health experts to identify factors that commonly lead to divorce. Of those polled, 65 percent said that communication problems were at the top of the list. A related factor, an inability to work together to resolve conflict, was cited by 43 percent of those polled as second on the list.
Although these results confirm what many people have already known, the survey did find that men and women have very different complaints about their partners’ communication skills. For example, approximately 70 percent of men who said their marriages ended due to communication problems said that nagging and complaining were the primary issue. About 60 percent of men identified their partners’ failure to show appreciation as the leading communication factor. Over 80 percent of women, however, said that their relationships ended because their partners did not do enough to validate their feelings and opinions. In addition, almost 60 percent of women said that their partners simply talked about themselves too much.
The survey also asked experts to identify common habits of couples who have remained together for many years. Just under 80 percent of these couples said that pursuing individual interests was the most important factor to having a successful relationship. About 36 percent said that learning how to argue in a healthy, constructive way was the key to ensuring a lasting relationship. Not surprisingly, both of these factors require couples to develop effective strategies to communicate their feelings to their partners. Partners in lasting relationships are able to express their needs to be alone and, when conflict arises, to share their feelings in ways that are not overly combative. Of course, couples in lasting relationships also know that communication is not a one-way street: to do it well also requires good listening skills.
If you are thinking about filing for divorce, consider speaking to an experienced divorce attorney. An attorney who specializes in divorce and family law issues can explain the process, provide details about your options and give you an idea of what to expect. For more information, contact a divorce attorney today.