If you were to guess what men would say they want more of in a relationship, what would you guess? Sex? Actually, according to research done by C. Northrup, P. Schwartz and J. Witte, and written about in The Normal Bar, it is communication. For men in unhappy relationships, they were asked to choose from nine answers. Sex was not their number-one wish. The top wish was for communication, then affection, and sex was in third place. Complaints weren’t all that different for unhappy women, whose list had communication first, affection second, and then financial stability in third. For happy couples, both women and men said they wished for nothing to be in first place (in other words, all their needs were met!), then there was a tie between sex for men and communication for women, in second place.
So, for both men and women, communication tops the list of what we want more of in our relationships. Happy relationships, when they are working well, have plenty of this, and we lack for nothing. When things aren’t optimal, we crave more communication. The art of intimate conversation, then, is the key to a better relationship. Check out earlier blogs on how to communicate effectively to buff up on these skills (How to get rid of criticism and defensiveness, A simple listening exercise to help you become a great listener, and Contempt, the battery acid). Make sure there are plenty of moments in your life together as a couple when you take time to foster good communication. This is not just talking about good things, though this is important, but also about things that aren’t perfect. Finding ways to keep communication flowing in gentle ways with one another is the best way to make sure the engine of your relationship has all the oil and gas it needs to run smoothly for the long haul. This takes some time and attention, but it is worth it.