The Weekly Dream: Things Fall Apart Pt. I

“What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

“Whoever talks the most, needs the relationship the most”

Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to spend some time with my grandfather. We talked and as my grandparents’ forty-seventh wedding anniversary was around the corner, I asked him how he managed to stay with someone that long. Among the many reflections he shared with me, he said, “You have to make up your mind that this is where you want to be, and that the sacrifices you make are worth it.”

It is a conversation that stuck with me. I realized, and I have said before, that we do not have many examples of functional relationships. My generation is embarking upon life without knowing how to make a relationship that lasts. What will be the fallout? So I started thinking, if no one can tell me how to make a relationship work, then perhaps it would be instructive to discuss why relationships fall apart. And I am not just talking about romantic relationships, but any type of relationship, although romantic relationships lend themselves easily to analysis. The next five weeks will reflect my top five reasons for Why Things Fall Apart and how to combat relationship cancer.

1. Communication

Communication is the one of the primary culprits for relationships breaking down. As my brother Garlin is oft to say, “90% of relationship problems stem from a breakdown in communication”. Most of the time, someone has a need and it is not being met. Or there is a disagreement, and what ensues is an exercise in passive aggressiveness. This will only make matters worse. You should be able to communicate with your partners with complete and utter candor and honesty. My rule is that I am willing to discuss it once and then, I leave it alone.

What does it take to effectively communicate? First, it takes a skill that we all can improve upon: Active Listening. This type of listening is concerned with trying to understand where the other person is coming from. Next, there must be a sensitivity to the communication style of the person we are dealing with. In writing, the first rule is to tailor your message to your audience. You cannot come at everyone the same. To do so is asking for disaster, because it ignores the uniqueness of the people you are dealing with. Some people need to tough love, others need to be spoken to in soft tones. Whatever the approach, you want to make sure that you are not wasting your breath or your time. So it is best to strategize your approach so that you are heard. We are looking for more than an emotional release, we communicate to inspire change.

Lastly, there must be a willingness to communicate. Stereotypically, men hate the fact that women always want “to talk things out” and do not take the process seriously. However, I have met individuals of both sexes who hate “arguing” or “conflict” or “talking”. In other instances, they “shut down” and act cold, implementing the silent treatment. These individuals make a horrendous error. It takes a lot for someone to open up and to disregard that bravery leads to resentment and it also sends the wrong message. Even when you do not feel like talking, you have to talk. You might need some time to cool off or think, but do not make the mistake of being to busy or too hurt to resolve issues. Life is too short. If you are dealing with someone who does these things to you or who will not put their feelings to the side for the greater good, then as the saying goes, “shake the dust off your feet” and keep it moving. All you are going to get for your efforts is frustration.

Any relationship is a process, and communication is the lifeblood of relationships.

A closed mouth don’t get fed.

Truth and Peace,
Steven M DeVougas
Question of the Week: What communication challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?


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5 responses to “The Weekly Dream: Things Fall Apart Pt. I”

  1. "The Consigliere" says :

    Already, some people have taken issue with the second quote. Therefore, my second question is whether it is bad to “need” a relationship? I do not mean in a needy kind of way, but is it weak to “need” someone? I am interested to hear thoughts on this as well.

  2. Garlin II says :

    Though I am quoted here, I am by no means a communications expert; this is one of the many aspects of my life in which I am a “Work in Progress.” I have seen real examples in my life where I have made strides in this area, and I have also seen areas where I have relapsed severely.

    The biggest challenge that I have in my opinion? Probably the communication expectations that I have of others. I have admittedly high expectations for people being clear & open with me, in part because I try to do this myself, and in part because I see that as the ideal and the only way to achieve happiness and success in a relationship, since this has been the common thread in every successful relationship that I have observed/been exposed to. How do I deal with this? I’m still working on it. I think it’s not a problem of understanding, but more a problem of [a lack of] understanding of people and their communication mechanisms (a.k.a. Love Languages). Understanding how your mate/spouse/significant other/friend communicates and having them understand how you express yourself is also critical to having a great relationship in my opinion.

    I’m trying to deal with it by being being attentive and observant to the wants/needs of the one that I am committed to (this would bode well for communication as a whole as well). If a person tells or shows you three different things/emotions in the same manner, that’s probably the one they’re most comfortable with. The simple example here is that if I tell you that I’m happy or hurt or scared by writing you a letter, then it’s likely that I express myself best through the written word and therefore it won’t be effective to badger me to talk; try sending an email. By paying closer attention, I can find a more effective way to communicate, which in turn benefits everyone involved.

  3. Anonymous says :

    Steve and Garlin, as alwys you both have brought up some very good points in how to deal with relationships with various different types of people. To comment on the comment about being needy—Being needy and needing someone are different things in my opinion and its not necessarily bad to need someone. Everybody needs love or someone to talk to. As Steve said earlier, some people might not realize how much they need someone (perhaps because they take things for granted-especially if it is so easily accessible or dependable) and that may warrant them not to out forth a whole lot of effort….this could bring up a whole other issue in that how can one be dependable for a person consistently without being taken for granted?

    That may be getting slightly off the subject and for another discussion- but lastly, I;d like to hone in on Steve’s original comment that each person has to know specifically what they want and whether or not its worth fighting for or making sacrifices. When you meet that special someone nothing or no one should get in the way of making time or putting in the extra attention that is needed. When you know what you want first, it will be somewhat easier to communicate that. Then you can work on how to communicate that to the different individual(s) you deal with. I would like to commend Steve and Garlin for being men with an apparent sensitive and thoughtful approach to both sexes.

  4. "The Consigliere" says :


    Excellent comment. You make an excellent point in that expectations do play a significant point. Sometimes we get in our chest because what we put out is not reciprocated. Or, we do not communicate about the right things (e.g. vision, the future or purpose of the relationship. I like to say that these things are “lost in translation”. Consequently, we get disappointed. That is where the love languages come into play. At the same time, you have to know when it is a lost cause, and that is a judgment call.

  5. Anonymous says :

    This was pretty deep and pretty timely. Thank you, Steve. Some food for thought:

    1) Could it be that often we have things including our relationships out of their divine order? Few know what it means to put God 1st and look to fulfill their needs in relationships.

    2) Could it be that our society just does not get the concept of selflessness…there is this me, me, me attitude that prevents many from even hearing another yet alone understanding.

    3) In regards to marital relationships, maybe too many are forgetting to recommit themselves to each other day after day. But of course that requires us to commit to God on a daily basis… I decide on a daily basis that I WILL love my husband and cherish him and yes obey…sounds kind of outdated,huh…well it works…if God loves me enough to bless me with such a beautiful and holy union…I will make sure that I am exhibiting that love in our relationship…it in essence honors God. Dear Steve, I don’t believe most people get that.
    4) It seems as though no one wants to understand…everyone just wants to “Win” the debate… or be right. That’s not communicating. We all lose when we don’t love each other enough to simply listen.

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