Dubai: April may be celebrated as the Couple Appreciation Month in some parts of the world, but communication, let alone appreciation, between spouses in the UAE is on the decline, experts have warned.
According to them, couples in long-term relationships are the hardest hit as the growing responsibilities they shoulder and the tedious routines they fall into leave little time or inclination for mutual admiration, regard or romance.
Marriage without barely any exchange of thoughts, feelings and emotions is unsustainable. Not really being mindful of making each other a priority is when the communication starts to slip drastically and the marriage heads into a serious danger zone. It doesn’t mean that you can’t fix it, but you should ensure that you never take good communication for granted.
Nita Maru, Managing Partner & Lawyer, TWS Legal Consultants, who also runs the Divorce Clinic that counsels partners falling apart, said, “Couples may think that lack of communication in a marriage is common. What were enjoyable conversations with each other at one time turn into functional chats in the hallway now, as we have seen with many families who come to us. We have noticed that some partners spend an entire day without even talking to each other, almost as if it is normal.”
The reality, however, is that lack of communication can cause significant problems. Maru said, “Marriage without barely any exchange of thoughts, feelings and emotions is unsustainable. Not really being mindful of making each other a priority is when the communication starts to slip drastically and the marriage heads into a serious danger zone. It doesn’t mean that you can’t fix it, but you should ensure that you never take good communication for granted.”
The reasons why communication becomes a casualty are many.
According to Maru, “When you’re married you should be the first person your spouse turns to for support, help and respect. When that support is lacking then often one turns to somebody else out of necessity, and this doesn’t end well.”
She said, “If lack of communication continues over time then intimacy eventually suffers, the connection is weakened, and it’s hard to find common ground. It often leads to divorce especially when communication is not seen as a priority, there is nothing left to share and talk about between two partners.”
She said, “We have seen over the years that poor communication can make one very tempted to cheat. It can make you feel like being married isn’t quite what it used to be anymore. We all know everyone goes through rough times, but if you are aware of this and you make good communication of utmost priority in your marriage then you will stay connected and ensure that you don’t head down the wrong path.”
If the behaviours or actions of one partner have really hurt the other partner, then we often see each go into defensive patterns and communication over the smallest of interactions can become filled with irritation and blame. Appreciation between couples is extremely important.
Smartphones and other tech devices make matters worse against this backdrop. In fact, too much time spent on these devices could be one of the main reasons why couples don’t talk to each other. As one marriage counsellor said, “It is so common to find couples sitting in the same room, doing their own thing on their smartphones or iPads. They don’t feel the need to talk to each other and that’s where the problem begins.”
Aamnah Hussain, psychologist at the German Neuroscience Centre, said, “Breakdown of communication can start from the very beginning of a relationship.
If not altered, it can worsen over time. Also, if the behaviours, decisions or actions of one partner have really hurt the other partner, then we often see each go into defensive patterns and communication over the smallest of interactions can become filled with irritation and blame.”
Hussain said, “Appreciation between couples is extremely important and often easily overlooked. If you look at the research by the Gottman Institute, you will find that showing admiration and appreciation for your partner increases the “emotional bank account” or goodwill in the relationship, which improves the quality of relationship, enhances sense of well-being for partners and buffers them from the negative effects of the inevitable conflicts that exist in all relationships.”
2. Pay close attention to your partner’s body language. It will help you understand his or her mood and emotions
3. Listen to your partner attentively when he/she speaks. This will encourage more open and deep conversations
4. Get away from it all and travel even if it’s for a short break.
5. Above all, appreciate each other more
How this separated couple reunited
Aparna and Om Prakash Bajpai had drifted apart because of lack of communication, but timely realisation saved their marriage
Dubai-based Aparna Bajpai, 36, is considered a beauty with brains. Married with a nine-year-old daughter, she won the title for the Mrs India Globe beauty pageant for the UAE last year, and knows what it takes to be picture-perfect.
She also knows it takes a lot of effort.
Having suffered many odds, including two miscarriages, several bouts of depression, a separation from her husband and a scarring accident, she has fought her way back into good health and a revitalised marriage, raising a family and pursuing a career with panache.
As the world marks Couple Appreciation Month, there are few people perhaps who are better placed than Aparna to talk about the importance of communication among couples, because the lack of it could break a marriage, as it almost did in her case.
Aparna said, “My husband Om Prakash and I have been married for 17 years now. I was just 19 when I tied the knot and followed him from Mumbai to London where he started a business and did his MBA. I had a rewarding job, and did my MBA too.”
With the couple doing well in their careers, nothing else seemed to matter to them at the time, not even the fact that Aparna had a miscarriage a year into the marriage.
But without their even realising it, communication had become a casualty in their “super busy” lives. “We stayed in the same house but it felt like strangers. We hardly spent time with each other. A whole week would pass and we would have barely exchanged a few words.”
But as the years rolled on, the business of life began to take a toll. “I had suffered another miscarriage and found myself suffering from bouts of depression. My health began to deteriorate and my family back in India was worried as I did not have any support system in London.”
By 2008, Aparna said things came to such a pass that she moved to Mumbai, while her husband stayed back. “We just needed that space and I had to undergo a thorough medical check-up.” But things were far from easy.
Misdiagnosed with Rubella, she was in for more distress. “My husband and I did not meet for a year and I started suffering from separation anxiety. We then realised we needed to communicate with each other, so he flew down to Mumbai.
In due course, Aparna, still in Mumbai, delivered a baby girl. “My husband’s work kept him in London and we carried on with our lives. Although he supported us financially, the distance remained. In 2011, I met with a bad accident after I slipped in the washroom and scarred my face. Om Prakash wanted to fly down immediately but I wouldn’t let him until my scarred face was out of the plaster. But when he eventually did come over, we knew we had to be together.”
The couple, who moved to Dubai in 2011, said the UAE helped rebuild their lives. But there was still one hitch: Om Prakash did not want Aparna to work. While she raised her daughter, the longing to do something with her qualifications haunted her. “I went through an identity crisis. But this time round, I got the necessary support from my husband and I took part in a beauty pageant.”
There has been no looking back since as Aparna, who won the Mire Globe India for the UAE last year, is now the ambassador for the pageant with the platform she established — Being She — all set to bring the pageant to Dubai in June.