Closeness between partners can lead to ineffective communication

Does it sometimes seem like talking to your spouse is like talking to a stranger? There’s a reason for that. Psychology professor, Kenneth Savitsky of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. conducted an experiment with 24 married couples to gauge how effectively they communicated.

Couples Communication Study

The couples sat facing away from one another and were instructed to use ambiguous phrases from every day conversation to convey specific messages to each other. An example being, “It’s getting hot in here.” Researchers found that a husband would misunderstand the message to be a sly hint at sexual arousal, instead of a cue for him to turn up the air conditioner.

The condition called “Closeness Communication Bias,” makes communicating with close family or friends seem basically like communicating with a stranger. People in close relationships assume they know what the other person means, but often misconstrue the message due to ambiguity.

The Bottom Line

So, rather than saying “I have a headache,” and receiving two aspirin when you wanted a head massage, just ask for one. It will save you a lot of frustration later on. Being direct and asking for what you want, instead of dropping hints always works out better in the end.

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