Sticks and stones are hard on bones
Aimed with angry art,
Words can sting like anything
But silence breaks the heart.

The above verse was a creation of Phyllis Mc Ginley for "Ballade of Lost Objects" in 1954. It illuminates the innate human need to communicate and express their feelings, dismissing the preference for eloquent over obtuse expression.

The meaning, purpose, method and importance of communication differs greatly for both genders. Communication has always been the biggest bone of contention whenever and wherever the two sexes have tried co-existing! Ask why, and Dr. John Gray would possibly tell you,"...'coz men are from Mars and women are from Venus!" Well, the fact that both have got stuck on battleground Earth, and have been living here for centuries together, clearly means that there is no hope for either of us going back to our respective planets anytime soon! Hmmm... Sounds serious; but not hopeless! Since we have survived together for so long and have come to recognize and understand each other's behavioral idiosyncrasies so well as to be prompt to dismiss a typical gender-specific faux pas as "Men, they're all the same!" or "Women, they never change!", there, sure as hell, is hope for us to continue coexisting on this planet - amicably! When two people are emotionally committed to each other, communication provides the grease that keeps the relationship rolling smoothly. Relationship communication problems are those bumps in the road which make your journey rough and puts strain on the relationship's machinery, which was built by both partners with love, care and respect for each other.

Love, care and mutual respect - these are 3 very genuine and powerful emotions and finding someone for whom you sincerely feel these emotions and who reciprocates your feelings is nothing short of a Divine miracle! When you commit to each other, you do so with the belief that this is "forever" and not "till-such-date" or "till-so-and-so-happens". It is sad to see relationships get strained or go sour just for the want of some "together time". Let us understand the biology of communication between a couple and take a look at the various relationship communication issues. I am not sure if, after reading this article, the male-female communication differences would get resolved (though, if even one couple benefits from it, I would consider it life's greatest reward to me!) but I write on with the hope that if we can try and understand each other's differences, may be it would be easier for both people to accept each other as they are and be more patient and forgiving in their relationship. With some conscious effort and time, we may even be able to laugh at our own communicational idiosyncrasies and, hence, avert possible emotional thunderstorms!

Common Relationship Communication Issues

Time: In today's hectic life when both partners are participants in the proverbial rat race, quality time doesn't just drop in by itself! It has to be created! And no, I am not talking about weekends and holidays - I am talking about emotionally connecting every day of the week! Yes, it is absolutely possible, all it takes is a little prioritizing on your part. Switch that television off when both of you are having dinner together after a long, tiring day. So what if your team is winning a game? Take this opportunity and talk to each other about - anything! It could be about how the day was for both of you, planning your next vacation, discussing movies, books, reminiscing upon your early dating period, or just plain bitching! Trust me, sharing gossips with each other is a great stress buster! It gives you an opportunity to talk and listen to each other and have a good laugh together. Remember the time when you were in school, and you and your best buddy used to enjoy sharing the latest gossips so much? Your partner/spouse is your best buddy for life; who better to connect and laugh with other than him/her? Sharing simple moments like these don't require a 25th hour in your day, but makes the bond you share so much stronger!

Patience: Okay, so you are the talk-a-thon winner and your partner is the quiet type. Congratulations to both of you, as the two of you fit like interlocking pieces of a puzzle! Quit gaping and read on! Would you enjoy talking to someone who is equally talkative (let me finish before you nod in assent) but doesn't listen to what you have to say? Would your talk have any meaning if it were not listened to? You are lucky to have a patient listener in your spouse! However, it is not so great to be the only one who always does the talking. Here is where the quiet one needs to put in some hard work and the talker should support and encourage. Encourage the "silent partner" to speak up and express his opinion. Rather than expecting him/her to express his/her opinion, explicitly ask for it. Strike up a conversation on a general topic, say, economic reforms, and ask for his/her views on it. Speak about your respective views and appreciate how they differ on the same issue. You can both learn something, besides warming up to each other and enjoying an equally balanced conversation!

Express Your Expectations: Silent expectations are the deadliest of all relationship problems. If you wish your partner to do the laundry while you do the cooking, but he/she doesn't get the silent cues, rather than boiling within, just tell him/her what you expect. After all, you share your lives together, so each has a right to know what is expected of him/her. Not all people are the same and this difference is present even in the way people pick up (or don't) non-verbal signals. Ladies, this is for you - remember the last time you fumed because you did all the household chores on weekend while he just sat in front of the TV all day? Remember when he was confused as to why you were so upset? Well, as much as you bang your head on the wall, the fact remains that men often perceive the concept of "obvious" differently from women. Maybe he didn't come to your aid because he assumed that since you didn't ask for it, you didn't need it and he might have disturbed you if he tried? For men, "obvious" means "verbally expressed". This is nothing to fret about. You see, men are pretty simple and straight forward creatures; their mind works best with solid premises and absolute data. Women, on the other hand, are more intuitive and are good at picking up subtle clues to base their actions on. If your guy wants you to be clear and straightforward the next time you want him to do something for you, be so. Tell him that you would appreciate if he washes the dishes while you do the laundry next time, so that together you can finish all house work and enjoy that baseball game together. Trust me, he would be more than glad to oblige!

Make a Conscious Effort: Agreed that you both have a hectic life and, at the end of the day, are too tired to talk. So plan the weekend accordingly! If you HAVE to go to your best friend's wedding this Sunday or if pals have been pressing you for this Saturday's steak-and-beer get-together then make sure you plan a date for just the two of you at the first opportunity you get! Plan it well in advance and stick to it. Unless it is an absolute emergency, let nothing and no one come in your way. You don't make a commitment unless you stick to it and the commitment you make to your spouse or partner holds more importance than any business or social commitment. This is the person you plan to get old with; this is the person who will be there for you till the day you die! Respect your commitment to him/her, other things will start falling in place themselves. Make efforts, and not excuses, to overcome the lack of communication in relationships.

Fight for Your Relationship: Don't you think it's strange that married couples wash dirty linen in public when they are fighting for a divorce? I think it is way stranger than strange! It is strange that two people, married to each other, can be so passionate about dissolving their marriage! What baffles me is, why don't people show equal passion to save their marriage and relationship? If you can put in so much fight to separate from the person whom you married for love, why don't you fight to save your relationship? I know what you're thinking - that it is easier said than done, that differences in relationship and marriage communication problems are too great to be resolved. Also, there is the "why me?" mentality. I say, why not? Almost all married couples face some marital problems but that doesn't mean every marriage ends! There are always reasons behind the failure of marriages, but there are also very good reasons why some marriages work just fine! If both partners take on the responsibility of doing their bit towards making things work, I see no reason why things won't work out! Remember, a clap is the result of both hands coming together in joyous agreement; only two hands can produce a clap whereas one hand can only slap! Likewise, effort should be put in by both parties. Hey, you both invested in this relationship! You're partners, for God's sake, not employer-employee or benefactor-beneficiary! Both have an equal stake in the relationship or marriage and you must both work out ways to make it a success!

Where there is a will, there is a way! Start with deciding that you're gonna make it work, no matter what! Be stubborn and don't make any exemptions in your mutual efforts; this way, the relationship would have no other choice, but work for both of you! Both need to take active control of the relationship, communication problems will evaporate gradually. Show the world that your decision to be together was the right one and don't let communication barriers raise questions on your choice and decision-making abilities! Take the trouble and make your efforts worthwhile. Talk to each other as often as you can. Dig a few seconds out of a busy work schedule and send a short "Wassup" text to your beloved; it shows he/she is on your mind even during your busiest hours and it makes him/her feel special! This and such other small gestures go a long way towards concreting your bond and doesn't require much of an effort either. Cmmunication problems are those cracks in a relationship which, if not detected and touched up early, may become insurmountable rifts and distance you from your spouse without either of you realizing it! To quote Emily Kimbrough, "Remember, we all stumble, everyone of us. That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand." The journey of life becomes so much easier when both co-passengers understand each other's differences, rather than blame and try changing each other. Spend as much time together as you can, laugh over silly jokes just so both of you can laugh together, talk about your differences rather than resorting to "cold war". Make love, not war; bond well, bring the romance back in your life! Take care and God bless!