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Common Misunderstandings in Relationships and How to Address Them

All relationships have conflicts, which occur when expectations are not met. Each individual has expectations based on their past experiences and personality. We all want a healthy relationship free of conflict and argument, but what happens when conflicts occur? How can you solve them?

We are going to look at common misunderstandings and their causes in relationships. We will also look at the effects of misunderstanding in a relationship and tips to solve them effectively.

15 Common Misunderstandings and Their Causes in Relationships

Misunderstandings can ruin a relationship. Knowledge of the common misunderstandings and the causes behind them can help you to solve any miscommunication so you can have a conflict-free relationship. Below are some common misunderstandings and their reasons.

1. Making assumptions - mind reading

Misunderstanding occurs when you try to read your partner's mind by making assumptions about what your partner wants or what they might be feeling instead of asking them directly. As you do not have magical powers, often your assumption might be wrong, which might cause a tiff in your relationship.

It is equally a problem if your partner refuses to share what they want and expects you to read his mind. The best solution in these cases is to have open communication where you tell each other what you want and expect.1

2. Not giving specific time duration - not specific about time

A conflict is about to occur when your husband has told you he will be home from work by 7:00 P.M., but there is no sign of him even at 10:00 P.M. This happens because lots of men are usually not specific about time. They say they will be home within 5 minutes, but they get so busy with something that the 5 minutes become an hour, and it’s not a big deal for them.

On the other hand, women are usually more specific about how long it will take them to be somewhere or to finish a particular chore.

3. Men and women process stress differently

When a woman is stressed, she will likely process her feelings by talking about the problems in her life and venting out her anger. However, when a man is stressed, he will likely want to go into his shell. 

This difference between how men and women handle stress results in conflict. Women must show some patience and give time to their men to come out of their shells.

On the other hand, men should show some understanding and pay attention to what is happening in their partners’ lives. 

4. Men are seen as unemotional

As lots of men don't usually show their emotions, many times, women don't see them as emotional and might not realize they are hurting them in one way or another. In reality, men can be sensitive and feel hurt and anger just like anyone else. 

5. Forgetful nature - ineffective listening

forgetful nature - ineffective listening

Conflicts can occur in a relationship when your partner keeps forgetting things, whether it is an anniversary or an important piece of information their partner shared with them. It is okay if your partner forgets a couple of not-so-important things; however, conflict arises when this happens frequently. 

Your partner's forgetful nature towards you might indicate that they only hear what you say but do not effectively listen. I suggest sitting and discussing with your partner how they can improve their listening skills.2

6. Men do not listen to problems - they give solutions

Many women feel that their husbands do not listen to their feelings when they complain, which results in frustration. In reality, after listening to their wife’s complaints, the other person’s response is to offer solutions; however, sometimes, women simply want someone to listen, which leads to misunderstandings.

On the other hand, when men have a problem, they would find it helpful if their wives offered them a solution rather than providing compassion only.

7. They do not care - not calling to inform

Just as men do not think it is important to specify the exact time they will be home, they also do not think it is important to inform their wives when they are getting held back at work, which can drive their women crazy with worry. 

When men fail to make a simple call to their wives informing them about their whereabouts, it makes the women feel hurt and think their husbands do not care.

8. Belief in only their version - rigidity in the perception

Misunderstandings occur when couples refuse to believe that they might be wrong in how they remember things went down. If both people believe their perception is accurate, it would not be easy to come to a conclusion. It requires understanding and maturity to accept their partner’s emotions without battling the truth or lie of minor details.

9. Not feeling loved - different definitions of showing affection

A woman might feel hurt thinking her husband does not love her because he does not get her roses, does not always hold hands, or does not cuddle. 

However, lots of men are not as expressive and show their love through sex or doing practical things for their wives. The different love languages can cause disagreement between couples.

10. Money matters - not deciding on the finances

Finances are a sensitive topic in any relationship and can be a reason behind various misunderstandings. Conflicts can occur in a relationship when one partner believes in saving while the other believes in spending or if there is a huge difference between the earnings.

A couple might never be on the same page when it comes to finances, but with an honest talk about dreams and expectations, they can form a middle ground.3

11. Ignoring the emotions of your partner - taking them for granted

Misunderstandings can develop when one partner has gotten into the habit of ignoring the other person’s response or emotions. It might make the partner on the receiving end of this behavior feel unimportant and unloved

To sort out this conflict, encourage your partner to share their expectations and emotions and hear them out!

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12. Not paying attention - men do not care about details

Women are usually more interested in the details while men believe in to-the-point discussion or description. It is helpful for the women to understand that men might not remember details but that it does not mean that they do not care. 

13. Unrealistic expectations - comparisons

Couples need to understand that the real lives of their favorite influencers are very different from what they show online. The inability to realize that different people have different personalities and, thus, different ways of showing love is one of the main causes of misunderstanding in relationships. 

14. Not spending enough time together - different definitions of quality time

One of my friends had just come from her vacation in Italy with her husband, and she started complaining that her husband did not spend enough time with her. When I pointed out that she had just returned from her vacation with her husband, she told me how her husband was always on the phone or reading his book, and they hardly had any deep conversations.

For lots of women spending time together means going on dates, having uninterrupted long conversations, etc., while for many men watching TV together with zero discussion also means spending time together. This clash in thinking causes conflicts in a marriage.

15. Making your partner feel bad - the need to always be right

Conflicts develop in a relationship when the partners always want to be right without giving a thought to where the other person is coming from and their feelings. 

Oftentimes, instead of attempting to resolve misunderstandings between them, the couple is focused on proving their point right, which makes it challenging to find a solution to their problems. 

Effects of Misunderstanding in Relationship

Misunderstanding in a relationship can cause minor problems in relation to big issues that can lead to the end of the relationship. Constant misunderstanding can take a toll on your mental health and cause stress, mistrust, anger, and anxiety.4

A misunderstanding can not only destroy your romantic relationship, but the negative experience can also affect the way you behave in your other relationships.

Tips to Solve Misunderstanding in a Relationship

It’s always better to settle a misunderstanding as soon as it occurs in a relationship, or else it can result in a conflict. Below are some tips that will help you learn how to solve misunderstandings between lovers.

1. Practice active listening

One of the major reasons misunderstandings exist among couples is because one or both parties just hear and don’t listen when issues are being raised. Couples should practice active listening to understand their partner’s viewpoint rather than just to win an argument. 

Make sure you are not on the phone or distracted in any other way when your partner is speaking so they feel comfortable sharing their views with you.

Active listening allows you to practice patience and listen to your partner without anger, frustration, negative opinions, and judgment and just focus on seeing things from their perspective. 

You can still choose to disagree with your partner, but in this scenario, your decision would come from a place of knowing.

2. Communicate effectively

communicate effectively

Active listening can sort out a big part of the problem of poor communication. Although giving proper attention to your partner when they speak will make them respect you more, it is equally important that your problems are addressed with the same enthusiasm so there can be effective communication from both sides.

If while talking, you feel you do not understand what your partner means, break their rhythm and ask them right away what they mean. Understand that your partner loves and cares for you, and instead of bottling your feelings, let them know how you feel.

It is important to decipher the best time to discuss issues that upset you. If your man is not a morning person, you can discuss things with them at another time when you will have his full attention.

3. Avoid trying to establish who’s right

The aim of having a heart-to-heart talk is to fix a conflict and understand each other. Therefore, the focus of your conversation should never be to establish who is right and who is wrong. If you feel that the focus of your conversation is deviating, you should take a break and start again when both of you are ready.

I am not saying that while talking, you should not accept your mistakes and apologize; what I mean is don't be fixated on trying to make someone the guilty party. The most important thing to understand is that no matter the scenario, it is vital that you and your man feel emotionally validated in your relationship.

4. Apologize quickly

Sometimes the issue is so minor that it can be solved with a simple apology. However, you'd be surprised that many people in relationships find it hard to say sorry. Sometimes, it's one of the quickest ways to avoid issues. Most people refuse to apologize because it means admitting they are wrong. 

If you notice you upset your partner, quickly say sorry and bury the hatchet. Also, you want to avoid abusing the use of apologies. Some people make it a habit of not improving but keep repeating their mistakes, hoping that being sorry will make it all better. You'll only make your partner feel sad or drive them away.

5. Do not point out past mistakes

When looking to settle a present misunderstanding, your focus should be on the present issue and you should avoid bringing up the past mistakes of your partner. Talking about the past will make your partner feel you have not forgiven them and you are still stuck in the past. Moreover, it will open the wounds of the past and the topic at hand will take a back seat.5

6. Spend quality time together

Spending time with each other will help you understand each other better and keep misunderstandings at bay. Spend quality time with each other having a conversation about your goals, opinions, etc. Make sure these conversations are about you and your relationship, not about family or office.

Yes, you have a hectic life, so there's little time to go on dates; however, the efforts count. Your partner will notice when you will take out extra time to spend with them, helping your relationship grow.

Not having fun together can cause boredom, which can cause growing apart. You don't need me to tell you how often couples that revolve in a different universe have misunderstandings and fights.

7. Try to solve the conflict before you go to sleep

In my opinion, to avoid misunderstandings from growing, you should make it a point to fix the issue before you go to sleep at night. This strategy has worked wonders for my love life and ensures that we sleep peacefully, knowing the issue between my husband and me has been resolved.

At night, when you both are in a calm mind, have a heart–to–heart conversation with your partner where you share your opinions and expectations and try to understand your partner’s point of view.

8. Share your expectations with them

You and your partner are different individuals in a relationship, so you may not have the same expectations. So how do you please each other and avoid misunderstandings? Well, try to share your views with each other. One of the first rules of sharing expectations in relationships is honesty. 

Sometimes, people feel shy even around their significant other and, thus, fail to express their inner desires as they think it might lead to conflict. If you do this, you may end up being frustrated by your partner's actions. It's not their fault if they do not know what you want as you have never opened up in front of them.

If you are not happy with a particular trait of your partner, request changes in behavior. However, make sure that you say it in a way that isn’t hurtful.

9. Be ready for a compromise

Accept that there is an issue in the relationship, and you are ready to deal with it in the best possible way. You must learn from your mistakes and grow. Understand that no one is perfect, and you should know the strengths and weaknesses of your partner.

If the problem has occurred due to your partner’s weakness, instead of complaining, try to understand where they are coming from. Understand that your partner did not mean to hurt you, and be willing to negotiate until you both come to a conclusion that suits you both the best.6

10. Don’t make assumptions

You may have heard the saying, "don't think you know me until you've walked a mile in my shoes." You can never truly know how your partner feels until you enter his skin and see things from your partner's perspective. Impossible right? So, the best you can do to have a glimpse of how your partner feels is to ask

If you feel some change in your partner's behavior, don't assume anything. It's one of the biggest templates of misunderstanding. Instead, talk to your partner to know how they feel.

11. Let go of your ego

If the end goal is to deal with the misunderstanding, it doesn't matter who makes the first move. So let go of your ego and approach your partner and let them know that you want to resolve the issue. Make sure you talk to them calmly, and instead of blaming them, share your thoughts and try your best to reach a solution.

12. Do not play the blame game

do not play the blame game

When trying to settle a conflict, avoid playing the blame game and make it a point to accept each other’s mistakes. A marriage requires people who love each other and are able to accept one another for who they are, so appreciate your spouse and, instead of playing the blame game, accept it when it is your fault.

Try to communicate calmly with your partner, but if you are feeling any negativity towards your partner, try to distract yourself by thinking about your family or some other happy memories.

13. Do not bring in a third party

It is never wise to bring in a third party to help you resolve the misunderstanding, no matter how close you are to them. No matter how close you are to a friend, there will always be bias and judgment. It is best to resolve all the minor issues yourself, and if there are issues you find difficult to settle, you should consult with a counselor.

14. Go for couple’s counseling 

Let's face it, two different people from different backgrounds, raised with different ideologies, are bound to experience some friction when they decide to live together as a couple. If, even after trying your best, you still need help to have a focused conversation with your partner to solve your issues, then it is best to take help from a professional.

A therapist will hear both of your points and help you find a middle ground.

15. Let go

If even after many attempts, you are finding it impossible to resolve the differences between you two, maybe a breakup is the best option. If you both are not compatible and unable to work on things, no amount of love can keep you together, and such a relationship can never make you happy.

FAQs

How to fix a misunderstanding in a relationship?

The main cause of misunderstanding in a relationship is poor communication which occurs because partners are not patient with each other and do not try to understand what the other one wants. So, the first step in fixing a misunderstanding is to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your partner and try to see things from their perspective.

Is it normal to have misunderstandings in a relationship?

Well, you and your man are from different backgrounds, raised by different parents with, perhaps, contrasting ideologies. Trust me; it will take a miracle for you not to have a misunderstanding. However, the main thing is to accept your partner as they are and try your best to resolve misunderstandings.

What can cause an argument in a relationship?

Most of the arguments in a relationship are related to finances, household chores, and parenting styles. Often an argument can result from a misunderstanding, disagreement, improper communication, etc. Sometimes, couples argue even without any reason as they want to prove themselves right.

Conclusion

The truth is misunderstandings are almost inevitable in a relationship, but by showing willingness to resolve them and having honest conversations, you can fix most of the misunderstandings. 

Do you have any personal experiences regarding misunderstandings in your relationships? Have you ever been in a relationship in which there was lots of miscommunication? How did things work out? Feel free to share your past experiences in the comments section and share it with your friends.

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6 Sources:
  1. Edwards, Renee & Frost, Jonathon & J.Harvey, Adam & Navarro, Michael & Adams, Brock. (2020). Relationships among misunderstanding, relationship type, channel, and relational satisfaction. Communication Research Reports.
  2. Asadi ZS, Sadeghi R, Taghdisi MH, Zamani-Alavijeh F, Shojaeizadeh D, Khoshdel AR. Sources, Outcomes, and Resolution of Conflicts in Marriage among Iranian women: A qualitative study. Electron Physician. 2016 Mar 25;8(3):2057-65.
  3. Papp LM, Cummings EM, Goeke-Morey MC. For Richer, for Poorer: Money as a Topic of Marital Conflict in the Home. Fam Relat. 2009 Feb;58(1):91-103.
  4. Crockett, E. E., Pollmann, M. M., & Olvera, A. P. (2022). You just don’t get it: The impact of misunderstanding on psychological and physiological health. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 39(9), 2847–2868.
  5. Baker, L. R., & McNulty, J. K. (2020). The Relationship Problem Solving (RePS) Model: How Partners Influence One Another to Resolve Relationship Problems. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 24(1), 53–77.
  6. Heyman RE. Observation of couple conflicts: clinical assessment applications, stubborn truths, and shaky foundations. Psychol Assess. 2001 Mar;13(1):5-35.
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