“The failure of a relationship is almost always a failure of communication” (Zygmunt Bauman)

A great part of our relationship problems often comes from a trouble “in” communication: if “untreated” if atrophies over time, and it becomes a brings to a trouble “of” communication, until someone says: “I’m done”.

Tiredness, stress, disappointed expectation, regrets, reflect on our words, change the contents of it, and don’t let us relate with the other person anymore. A lot of people are struggling to express their own reasons, what they feel, what they think in a clear way, and their inability to make a connection with the others  leads to relationship difficulties.

Communication is not just about “saying”, but also, and especially,  about creating a relationship with other people. Our days are full of relationships, in which communication is the lifeblood, the only thing that makes us build and manage healthy relationship.

At the end of a relationship, or during a speech, when something goes wrong, we says it’s “a communication problem”, as if we’re trying to blame something outside of us for the failure. Totally wrong! The communication problem  depends on what we said, on how we say it, on the relationship with the other person, and on whether he has received our message or not. It depends on us.

Sometimes a wrong word is enough to trigger an endless argument, just a disappointed request can blow up into an excuse for shifting any of our burden or trouble onto the other person.

One word leads to another, from “dishes”, to “lemons”, to “flowers”, to “ballet”, the characters  of this clip end up throwing nonexistent desires at each other too, so at some point of the conversation, they forget the reason they’re fighting  for, as they’re too focused on standing up for their reasons.

Gary and Brooke, after some year together, start to live first frictions and misunderstanding as a couple. Gary complains that the she never leaves him alone for a moment (“All I ask, Brooke, is that you show a little bit of appreciation. That I just get 20 minute to relax when I come home, instead of being attacked with questions and nagged the whole damn time…”), and so Brooke complains the lack of collaboration in housework, and the absence of gratitude for every single thing she does (“I busted my ass all day cleaning this house and then cooking that meal. And I worked today. It would be nice if you said thank you and helped me with the dishes!”.)

It’s seems like a dialogue between deaf people:

“… I am so exhausted. I just honestly want to relax for a little bit. If I could just sit here, let my food digest, and just try to enjoy the quiet for a little bit”.
Instead, she wants only to “go do the dishes”,  because she hates “waking up to a dirty kitchen”. In that way, to a discrepancy of intentions, they switch to a difference of opinions:

-“Who cares?”

-“I care! All right? I care”

And, when Gary finally decides to help her:

“You know what? That’s not what I want… I want you to want to do the dishes”

Woman!  They’re never satisfied, you’re thinking! Maybe Brooke was not really looking for the help of her partner, but she probably wanted to get his attention, to communicate to him her disappointment. Maybe she uses wrong words and behavior, or maybe Gary wasn’t able to “accept” and emphatically listen her words, anyway that this clip shows us that a word,  said or not, can build or can destroy.

Even when we believe we’re communicating clearly what we think, maybe the other person is not understanding, because maybe he/she is not associating words with our own meaning, is not experiencing our own emotions, and is not seeing reality with our own eyes.

Brooke’s frustration probably stems from not feeling gratified, not feeling appreciated for her dedication, from believing that everything she does is “taken for granted”. Each of us has plans and expectations that we hope will find realize in the people we love.

When this does not happen and our relationships does not “work” as we would like, we start to feel a strong sense of discomfort, which can become anger or indifference towards others, confusion and desire to escape.

Since communication plays an essential role in our daily lives, we put all those things into it.

That is why we forget the meaning of the debate the difference between a “strong desire to clean dishes”,  and a “a strong desire to offer to do the dishes”, between “acting crazy”, and “ I am not crazy”, becomes the most important thing.

And then you look further back in time for the cause of the problem, maybe lemons?

Gary, it’s not about the lemons

Maybe flowers?

It’s not about the flowers. It’s not about the dishes. It’s just about…How many times do I have to drop hints about the ballet?

The problem, however, is not even the ballet:

It’s not about you loving the ballet, Gary. It’s about the person that you love loves the ballet…

The real problem is:

How do you show up for me?

The problem is at its source. Maybe it was born years before but it had never been faced. That’s why communication is important. As a vaccine against flu, effectively and actively communicating and listening play a preventive role and “immunizes” against relational problems, whatever they may be.

I believe in an open and constant dialogue, I believe in being able to choose the right words, I believe in “magical” words that give positive emotions and save relationships, because, as I have had the opportunity to understand by participating, in recent days, at an interesting course of persuasive linguistics, “Words make the difference!” .

Do you believe that?

Buy the film


“The Break-Up“ A film by Peyton Reed, Jennifer Aniston, Vince Vaughn USA 2006

Buy the recommended book


“The Relationship Communication Cure: Communication Mistakes Almost Every Couple Makes and How to Fix Them” by Joshua Larson


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