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07/6 2011

The Second Coming of The Weiner Epidemic: Prophylaxis

When I first brought you “The Weiner Epidemic: Disease of Disconnect,” I was (hopefully) offering insight into the role that intimacy – or the lack thereof  – plays in the demise of relationships, often right from their inception (love that movie!).  The “Disease of Disconnect” highlighted the role that truly “knowing” and being connected to your partner plays in buffering your relationship from Anthony-Weineresque incidents.

Questions followed that post – and those questions were not dissimilar to the questions my couples in therapy ask me over and over again after I lovingly, yet knowingly (knowing that the work is really flipping challenging!), present them with relationship tools like my Intimacy Blueprint or Intimacy Prenup.

The questions range from basic how-to’s like, “What can we do to start fixing our issues?” to more emotionally-laden queries like, “Why didn’t anyone ever teach us this intimacy sh$#?” to the more primitive “What the freak?”

So, here’s a practical, no-nonsense, or should I say prophylactic, first line of defense against The Disease of Disconnect.

And it’s comprised of only one word, but it’s a big one…


Now, I know from having interviewed hundreds of couples over the years that the majority of couples can provide lip-service to the importance of communication in relationships.  They know that “communication” is a critical buzz-word.  Most just simply don’t get what it takes to truly communicate.

The other day I began reading a book by Deborah Tannen entitled “You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation.”  In it, she talks about the different ways that men and women communicate – with men “communicating” in a more factual way, and women “communicating” in a more emotional way.

You know what, though?  And here comes a really important point…

Conversation doth not communication maketh.

In formal English slang, this means that talking, blabbing, conversing, gossiping, or any other form of moving the lips so that words come out does not necessarily mean you’re communicating with the other person in your relationship.

To begin the quest for true relationship intimacy, as well as to safeguard your relationship from Weiner-like behavior, your first prophylactic is what I have termed “productive” communication.  If your communication isn’t taking you to a new place or a new understanding of your partner in the relationship, you can basically just call it talk.  And although talk has a way of bringing people closer simply because you wind up having a shared experience with another person, and it feels good, we still can’t call that communication.  It’s conversation, which is all well and good… but it ain’t communication.

But how can you tell the difference between conversation and communication, you ask?

Here’s an easy way to differentiate between true, productive communication and regular conversation: If it’s not leading to a new idea, a new behavior, or a new understanding about your partner or yourself in the relationship, then it’s most likely not communication.  Because without gaining greater knowledge about who you are with respect to your partner and your relationship – and then having the ability to act in those interests – you have gained very little in the way of intimacy.

And without intimacy, you risk repeated exposure to The Disease of Disconnect.

In a way, communication is a parallel process of love.  As one of my “favorite” tweets goes, “If you’re not acting on it, it’s love in theory only.”

If you can’t act on it, it’s communication in theory only.

And that’s just talk.




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