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Communication: Strengthening Intimate Relationships

An intimate relationship can be one of the more fulfilling components of life. A part of this fulfillment is the aspect of a shared acceptance in the two person monogamous or non-monogamous dyad. However, relationships aren’t as easy as the fairy tales have it out to be. A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show, first marriage ending in separation or divorce within 5 years is 20 percent, but the probability of a premarital cohabitation breaking up within 5 years is 49 percent. After 10 years, the probability of a first marriage ending is 33 percent, compared with 62 percent for cohabitations according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One factor that can be considered is the high break up percentage with premarital cohabitations. The getting to know someone aspect in a relationship is an essential part of building a trusting relationship. In most relationships the honeymoon period is the vital part of what keeps the relationship alive in the beginning phase. This phase is engineered by the level of attraction within the dyad. Which includes factors such as mutual agreements, desirable traits, and focusing on the good qualities in the relationship. I will refer to it as the madly in love period. However, something begins to happen as the relationship develops pass the honeymoon period, which is the next phase. This phase includes actually getting to know the person for who they are. In this phase, learning about the person’s not so preferred qualities come into the relationship. This stems from individual expectations that each partner may have, but might not have been discussed or avoided. This may be due to not wanting to create disturbances in the relationship. However, this in actuality begins to damage the relationship, like a quiet storm so to speak. A study done by Sullivan and Brandbury, showed lower rates in pre-marital counseling utilization with high-risk couples.

In the Building Strong Families (BSF) Project, for example, a recent large-scale federal initiative to provide premarital interventions to unmarried low-income couples, only 55% of couples assigned to the intervention condition attended at least one session, despite the program including financial incentives and a variety of supports such as childcare, transportation, and meals (Dion, Avellar, & Clary, 2010). One of the major factors in this avoidance is believing that the relationship will improve over time. Truth is, we all have expectations and want our needs to be met. Factors that include assumptions, predictions, and unrealistic wishes can lead to disappointment if not discussed early on in the relationship. Communicating early can lead to the success of the relationship. A major part of that success is learning about what you can accept through the alliance built in the relationship. This relieves each individual involved that brings about a sense of safety that leads to trust. Some of the insight gained by communicating early in the relationship is to understand the expectations that each member in the agreed dyad have for the relationship. This gives the opportunity to explore some of the unrealistic expectations in the relationship to be able to make the adjustments necessary for the development of the relationship. For all fairness, every relationship is not meant to last and quite frankly there is no such thing as a fairy tale relationship. Fact is, we are all a piece of work and learning to come to terms with ourselves is enough work within itself. Doing that in a two person agreed system takes effort and compassion. This includes expression of one’s own feelings, learning to listen to the other person and understanding their needs, forming constructive communication, and developing the capacity to work together towards the same cause. That cause being the betterment and growth of the individuals in the relationship and the relationship as a whole. This potentially will lead to satisfying results in financial management, sex, personality differences, spiritual beliefs, preference for how to spend leisure time, roles of each individual, child raring, shared plans, conflict resolution, and most importantly the love shared.

Divorce and Separation Statistics

Dion MR, Avellar SA, Clary E. Implementation of eight programs to strengthen unmarried parent families. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research; 2010. The Building Strong Families Project.

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