Communication With Your Partner

Communication With Your Partner: You Probably Don’t Know What They’re Thinking

You may think that you know your partner like the back of your hand — you share your lives with each other. However, new research suggests that communication with your partner may not be that simple and you may not know your partner as well as you think you do.

Psychologists at Washington University in St. Louis determined that even the most dedicated couples in long-term, exclusive relationships cannot identify how their partner handles emotional issues.

What Does the Research Say?

Lameese Eldesouky, the lead author of the study, explains that “Happier couples see their partners in a more positive light than do less happy couples…” and they “…tend to underestimate how often a partner is suppressing emotions and…overestimate a partner’s ability to see the bright side of an issue that might otherwise spark negative emotions.”

In other words, couples can’t identify what their partner may be thinking and often misunderstand their perspective on certain situations. 

In Eldesouky’s study, she examines how accurate couples are in judging personality characteristics and emotional coping mechanisms.

Researchers focused on two underlying coping mechanisms that can be difficult to spot: expressive suppression (stoically hiding one’s emotions behind a calm and quiet poker face) and cognitive reappraisal (changing one’s perspective to see the silver lining behind a bad situation).

This revealed that couples are generally able to judge their partners’ emotional patterns with some degree of accuracy, but have trouble differentiating between reappraisal and suppression.

The study also found that women most often see their partners in a more positive light than do men and they overestimate their partners’ ability to look on the bright side. Another finding concludes that if someone is more emotional, their romantic partner thinks they are less likely to hide emotions. Similarly, if someone frequently expresses positive emotions, such as happiness, their romantic partner thinks they use reappraisal more than they actually do.

Eldesouky confirms how difficult it is to identify emotions in another person. The study emphasizes how it’s really impossible to gauge what brews in your partner’s mind. Although you may have an idea, the best way to understand your partner’s thoughts is through verbal communication.

Couples Counseling in Orange County From Jennifer De Francisco

Learning to communicate with your partner can be a long and enduring process and it isn’t always for one or both partners. If communication with your partner is an issue in your relationship, couples counseling may be able to help.

Couples counseling is typically associated with couples in danger of breaking up or divorcing, but counseling is always helpful, even in stable relationships. It helps couples learn how to communicate effectively and how to better work together to solve problems, among many other benefits.

Jennifer De Francisco, MPA, MSW, LCSW, offers couples counseling in Orange County, CA for couples at any stage in their relationship. Her approach provides a safe environment to open and honestly share thoughts and emotions. Through developing a positive, therapeutic relationship, you and your partner can interpret what is going on, both in your life and in the session, creating a better awareness within your relationship. Contact Jennifer De Francisco by calling (949) 251-8787 or make an appointment online.

Source: University of Washington

If not now, when?

You don’t have to go through this alone. Seriously. Let’s get started.

Recent Posts

Featured Testimonials

Chris B.5.0
Read More
Kids are always hard and as a parent it's not always easy to see objectively what is really going on. Jennifer helped me talk through challenges/issues with my oldest son that were running through my head. In the end she provided me a solid perspective to build on and because of that I have been able to manage the situation much better. Easy conversation and very helpful.
Ravenna S.5.0
Read More
Jennifer is such a wonderful and genuine therapist. She is extremely kind and understanding. She comprehends couple and mental health problems precisely. I would definitely recommend her to anyone that is seeking help.
Read More
Jennifer is such a wonderful and genuine therapist. She is extremely kind and understanding. She comprehends couple and mental health problems precisely. I would definitely recommend her to anyone that is seeking help.
Timothy 5.0
Read More
I have been seeing Jennifer De Francisco for about a year, and she has helped me so much with the unhappiness I thought would never go away. Jennifer’s compassion and empathy made me feel safe enough to open up and talk about the uncomfortable feelings I didn’t even know were causing my sadness. With Jennifer’s help, I am now aware of my negative thoughts. Instead of avoiding them, I can work through them. She has helped change my life.
Read More
It was tough when we first started with Jennifer , but through difficult conversations and understanding some of the causes of how closed off we were to each other, we worked through it and are in a good place. The idea that we could break up is the furthest thing from my mind now, and going in to work on our relationship was the best thing to do. One of the things that really helped was that I felt Jennifer really cared that our relationship worked and that we improved things between us. I think that is rare, and always helped me not give up hope.
George S.5.0
Read More
I know people hate to hear this, but relationships take work, especially with kids and stress. I would suggest relationship counseling for any married couple, even if it were just monthly or when things get tough. We continue to see Jennifer after our initial problem because it keeps us on track. Best of luck to all couples looking for help- Jennifer is a wonderful resource.