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Are you in a Noisy Marriage?

Jeannine Crofton - Calgary Marriage Counsellor


Many people recognize talking with a spouse is difficult when the TV, kids or music is loud. These “noises “ are impediments to clear focus on your partner. Noises are much more than the volume in your environment and it can have an impact on your marriage. Adler and Rolls note there are three types of noise that impact our ability to hear and be heard by our partners: External, Physical and Psychological.

External noises are those that occur in our everyday environment. A plane flying overhead, a text message coming in on our phone and an interesting conversation happening beside us. Each of these distractions draws our attention away from the important task of hearing or speaking to our loved one. Physical noises are those that distract because of physiological experience such as pain, hunger, body temperature etc. These noises are contained within us and not understood by our partner. While everyone understands what pain is they many not understand your particular pain level or experience. Psychological noises are those internal voices or experiences of anger, shame or excitement that create a barrier during communication. These psychological noises often pair with physical noise that leaves us feeling isolated and misunderstood.

Sad wife looking at her ring after fight with husband

Are you in a Noisy Marriage?

Sometimes effective communication begins by first discussing the noises that may become a barrier. For example, I want to tell my spouse about my ideas for dinner with his family next week. I hesitate because I have an ache in my belly because I keep recalling how judged I felt when my roast beef dinner burned at the last family gathering. I feel embarrassment and anxious. No matter what my spouse might say it could trigger an emotional response.

“Asking for what you need reinforces that you are the expert on your noise and you know how best to handle it.”

One suggestion is to recognize that these three types of noise exist. Own that this is your noise and that you alone are going to manage it. Next, pull your partner into your experience and share what it is like for you. Lastly, if there is something specific they can do to be supportive i.e. some time to think, or a supportive hug then ask for it.  Asking for what you need reinforces that you are the expert on your noise and you know how best to handle it.  It is likely that your partner has their own noise and they too might have their own experience to share.  Hopefully, the shared experience paves the foundation for a much more productive conversation.  Try it out …. Share your noise.

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