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The Divorce Encyclopedia

Term Definition Communicating - the vitality of a marriage.
Application in Divorce Anyone can see how infidelity can wreck a marriage, and it remains right up there as a killer of marriages.

But right below it, according to experts, is the failure to communicate. And very often, the failure to communicate happens passively -- not by misunderstanding but by silence or inattention.

After a time, spouses begin to take each other for granted. This habit of mind is one of the acids that accumulate in most marriages, and in time it eats into the fundaments of the partnership.

Thus, the failure to communicate it not an error or commission but omission. Communication and understanding are the alternating current that electrify a marriage and give it energy and vitality.

After a while couples who stop talking to each other also stop listening when they do. In time, the failure to communication -- to talk about mundane and the sublime, the ordinary and the exceptional -- leaves two people who cannot grasp each other’s point of view. In time, the marriage, which is a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, devolves to the sum of its parts -- two drifting strangers who have less and less in common.

Poor communication sometimes happens in ways more insidious than silence and inattention. Sometimes one spouse may think that he or she is communicating when the other spouse does not. Very often partners may have different narrative styles. For example, a wife begins a long and textured story about something important to her and her husband, tired after a long day of work, blurts out, "Honey, brief me" or "Cut to the chase, will you?" It is a good bet that she will feel her husband is not really listening to her. "What’s the bottom line?" may be a good question in a business meeting, but it is one of the best ways to kill the rapport between spouses.

It is probably safe to say that a marriage cannot work without communication. The fact that so often one spouse is blindsided when the other announces plans for a divorce demonstrates that two spouses can become strangers to one another under the same roof.

Probably, to one extent or the other, poor communication is an element in most failed marriages.

And it is a certainty that a marriage going on the rocks cannot be saved without communications, which means sincere talking and listening.

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