In “Can We Talk,” relationship experts discuss the importance of couples setting aside time each day to have meaningful conversations that extend beyond typical daily superficial surface communication, instead, focusing on open/honest self-disclosure (i.e., communicating private feelings, fears, doubts, and perceptions with one’s partner) (Schoenberg, 2011). In general, I found it quite easy to relate this article to my own personal relationship experiences and agreed with the overall assertion that successful long-term close relationships are built upon a foundation of probing dialogue and open/honest self-disclosure. Without regular self-disclosure, couples can struggle to gain a true understanding of one another and can easily lose sight of subtle, or not so subtle. changes in their partner that directly impact the relationship.
I specifically identified with the authors’ observation that men generally prefer more tangible/physical forms of affection, whereas females are generally more responsive to verbal expressions of affection. It is, however, important to be cautious of generalizations relating to our partner’s demographical identity, as cultural and family dynamics are just as likely to be driving factors in that person’s preferred communication needs in a relationship (Sole, 2011). Avoiding generalizations and avoiding stagnate perceptions of our partners is perhaps why the authors of this article propose a series of probing questions, which on the surface may sound trite (i.e. what is your favorite movie), but are actually a means to make inferences about our partner’s likes/dislikes, communication needs, and overall worldview. This method promotes a disarming tone and conversational dialogue where couples can identify and address changes that might be going on in their partner’s life. One should always try to be an active participant in these self-disclosing communications and take note of observed consistencies, as well as inconsistencies, in order to truly understand their partner’s needs.
Schoenberg, N. (2011, January 17). Can we talk? Researcher talks about the role of communication in happy marriages. McClatchy-Tribune News Service. doi: 2240370261
Sole, K. (2011). Making connections: Understanding interpersonal communication. San Diego, Ca: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.