The Purpose of Communication with Intimate Partners

by Risa Ennis
Although we believe that communication with intimate partners is the vehicle to share our feelings, opinions and acquire what we need and want, there is another profound purpose that is largely misunderstood or ignored. This profound purpose of communicating with intimate partners is to continually understand and finetune ourselves. By doing so, we achieve great personal growth, leading us to find and practice our purpose here in the universe which leads to ultimately finding our happiness.

Our partners can help us better know ourselves, and correct /strengthen weaknesses. In so doing, we can achieve true intimacy and joy, within ourselves and with them, if we allow them, by allowing ourselves to hear their feedback and then practice honest self-reflection.
Typically we look outward at others, leading to reactive, critical or judgmental behaviors instead of first focusing on ourselves. This robs both partners of the personal, relationship and other goals they so desperately wish to achieve.

Partners with higher levels of self-esteem can better welcome the opportunity to hear feedback from their intimate partners than those with lower self-esteem.

Honest self-reflection will be achieved in direct correlation with how healthy our egos are. The healthier the ego, the more honest we will be about all parts of our souls, minds and bodies. A healthy ego admits and embraces the totality of who we are. An unhealthy ego is shame/fear based leaving one to whitewash realities too painful to admit. An unhealthy ego must present a “persona” (a false self) to protect against disapproval or have imperfections exposed.

True intimate communication is transparent, as we must be with each other, to achieve our self-actualization purpose of communication. But this begins within oneself first.
Therefore, the core purpose of communication - that is fine-tuning our best selves through intimate partners - requires a firm sense of self-esteem. This means that our strengths are not as profound as our abilities to acknowledge, understand and accept our flaws, unresolved issues including trauma/crises we have endured, and how these have all left indelible marks on us, intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually. By incorporating both our strengths and challenges, we can learn to wholly accept ourselves.

Most frequently, when communication breaks down, it is symptomatic of one or both partners, not taking full responsibility for self-reflection, stemming from low self-esteem.
Where there is low self-esteem with one partner, it is highly typical for this partner to project these imperfections onto the other partner through passive-aggression, aggression, withdrawal, avoidance, defensiveness, criticism, blame, shame or other character attacks. This projection repeated constantly in the relationship, leaves both partners assuming the communication is hopelessly flawed, leading to disconnection.

Where one partner has heightened self-esteem, that partner may be a wise guide to steer the other partner back to self-reflection. If this is achieved, through tenacity, maturity and clear language, higher intimacy and great satisfaction in the relationship is the result.

The challenge where one partner has heightened self-esteem, is to continually work towards an equitable relationship balance, intellectually, physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. Partners need to act in equitably reciprocal ways to enhance each other’s self-actualization. Self-actualization in turn enables the partners to cope with the multitude of challenges and stresses inside and outside of the relationship.

In summary, communication successes with intimate partners must begin with appropriate levels of self-esteem from both partners. Thus accountability and self-reflection - by-products of self-esteem - can assist both partners to achieve self-actualization. This will then accomplish the yearning intimate partners have for deep and joyful intimacy.

The best action in successful communication with our intimate partners is to continually ask oneself, “What am I trying to work through within myself when our communication is struggling?”

Risa Ennis is in private practice in Toronto and Newmarket as a Parent Educator, Accredited Family Mediator, Pastoral Counsellor, Parent Coordinator and Family Professional in the Collaborative Law Model. Risa also provides co-mediation with several family law lawyers to assist clients in preparation of comprehensive separation agreements.

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