There is no such thing as a lack of communication

Honey…I just don’t understand you!

Everyone says it, nobody gets its!

How many times have you said or heard couples or even therapists saying how communication in a relationship is key? A million times I suppose. What if I told you communication is rarely if not ever the problem people face in relationships. Would you be surprised? Confused? Intrigued? Angry?

Saying it isn’t the problem

People have no issues communicating what they want,  even if they don’t verbally say it out loud. Have you ever heard that communication passes mainly by body language and not verbal words? Communication without body language would be bland, boring and barely comprehensible.  Well, our capacity to read each other through body language is our ability to mind-map each other.
It is a skill we all develop at the age of four years old in a spontaneous manner and it becomes mature at the age of eleven. It is our primal instincts to interpret and understand other people through body language, their tone of voice and their attitudes.  So even if your partner isn’t verbally saying things, you are still strongly capable of determining what their desires or intentions might be. 
Now, I am not saying we can mind read, but we have a lot of clues as to our spouse’s moods of the moment. If we didn’t have this skill, we would never have sex, flirting would be absolutely impossible and you would never be able to have any type of connection with other people.
Here are a couple of examples you might relate to:
1) Your spouse comes back from work and you feel that they are upset. Just image how that would look like without them even saying a word.
2) Your partner is feeling flirtatious and they would like to have sex with you. Again, without saying anything, they are able to transmit to you their intentions and desires. What does that look to you if you picture it?
3) You are at a family dinner and they say something embarrassing or inappropriate and you want to communicate to them to quit it, without saying a peep. How would you go along doing it?
Are you starting to catch my drift? Well, that is also your capacity to mind-map. We also have an ability to predict where people are going with what they are saying, even though it is written down. Now I could give you some bogus explanation on human evolution and how it was used to save our butts from predators, but that is not important. What is significant is that you have the ability to mind-map.

So what am I suppose to do with this mind-mapping ability you say?

It is pretty simple. STOP PRETENDING YOU DON’T HAVE IT! So many couples come into my office saying that they don’t understand each other and they lack communication skills or that they don’t communicate. That’s when I have to refrain myself from having a little smile knowing full well that it isn’t the case, yet they want to implement that idea in the therapy. That is another mind-mapping ability called implanting false beliefs. Which we will get to in another article.

Most people don’t want their spouse to know that they can actually mind-map them. It allows them to pretend they don’t know what the other wants or that they don’t understand them when in reality they do. This serves many purposes in relationships that tend to be destructive. When we pretend that we don’t understand our partner’s desires and intentions it gives us excuses to avoid doing things that we don’t want to do. Like having sex! Being nice or emotionally available for them.

Have you ever kissed your partner wanting to show them you wanted to heat things up and get funky? Then only to receive those duck kisses that let you hang dry (the situation can also be reversed). That is when the partner later says: I didn’t understand that you wanted sex, it wasn’t clear! This allows avoiding the « I don’t want sex with you » discussion and putting the blame on the other person for not communicating properly what they wanted. If you had to choose between telling your partner you don’t desire them or arguing about how you both communicate. Which one would you choose? Most people would take the latter option.


couple therapist, sex therapist, communication issues
Oooh, the irony. Pretending you can’t hear the person with the ear without the can!

Sex and mind-mapping

Mind-mapping also plays a huge role during sex. This sets the mood and tone of your sexual relationship that you are about to have. The way you kiss, touch and what you do will be determined by mind-mapping. Rethink about your last sexual encounter. How did you know when to move on from kissing to touching genitals? How did you know it was time to penetrate or have oral sex? Have you ever felt that your partner wasn’t that into it or really was hot for you? If you are capable of understanding the flow and movement of sexual activities, then you can mind-map. Not that anyone doesn’t have the ability anyways! Now, are you still going to pretend that your spouse and yourself don’t communicate well?

 Understanding, just disagreeing

When people come in therapy saying they have « communication issues »; what they are really saying is: I don’t agree with you and I want you to change your mind ASAP. Sometimes, they want the therapist to change their lover’s mind. It is easier saying that we don’t understand each other when in reality we perceive things differently from our spouse. We have difficulty in our relationships when we are faced with a partner who doesn’t want the same things as us. We can take it personally and feel unimportant to them. It can break our perception of who they are as a person. It doesn’t validate our point of view, which obliges us to confront them. It confronts us to make tough life decisions that we may not want to deal with.

Can we not agree to disagree?

Nope, you may not! When it comes to negotiating our values, our principles, and our integrity, we cannot agree to disagree. You are faced with constant dilemmas in a relationship where you have to choose between what you want and what your partner wants which more often than not, will not necessarily be the same. You cannot have sex and not have it at the same time. You cannot spend money and save it for later. You cannot clean the house and not clean it. You cannot go to your in-laws at the same time that you stay at home.
When we tend to disagree on numerous things in relationships, that’s when the infamous « communication issues » start to arise. Sex, cleaning, in-laws, money and educating the kids are the general subjects we argue the most about. Others are also possible. They touch our most profound values and integrity, which no one wants to lose.

How to get out of this never-ending cycle?

Like I said earlier: « STOP PRETENDING YOU DON’T HAVE MIND-MAPPING ABILITIES ». This will allow you and your partner to stop arguing about something that doesn’t exist and discuss the real issues at hand. Be honest about what you want and the fact that you know what your partner wants, but that you just don’t want to give it to them. This will end the none sense bickering about the « I already told you this before » and the « how come you still don’t understand ». Take into consideration that you are not the only one who has made sacrifices in the relationship. That all your needs and desires will not and cannot all be answered. Stop avoiding the hard truths of your relationship and have the conversation with your partner. You will only appreciate each other more for being fully honest about who you are and what you want.
This can lead you to separation, but mostly it makes you a better person by being more understanding which tends to bring people closer not further apart. Knowing you can mind-map and that you are being mind-map changes the game in a relationship. It is up to you to decide how you want to play from now on.

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Learn more about the author

Francois Renaud M.A.

Sex therapist & psychotherapist in Downtown Montreal

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