What Happens When We Don’t Say What We Think and Feel


“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” ~George Bernard Shaw

Can we just talk?

Those words can be a buzzkill on dates, and yet talking is the most profound interaction we will ever have with another human being.

A while back, my husband walked into the kitchen where I was reading an article on my phone and asked me if I had a chance to get a Father’s Day card for his dad (who lives in Canada). I said no I didn’t, and, since it was eight in the evening, I’d get it tomorrow.

He put on his shoes, got the keys, and said, “I’m just going to get it,” then slammed the door.

Now, this seems like an appropriate conversation; however, what I can’t relate through the computer is the tone of it. You know, that tone where you know there’s more to it then what was just uttered. Plus, the door slam was like a slap in the face.

Immediately, my mind started accumulating thoughts about how I had messed up. How I place more emphasis on my own family, and he must feel I don’t do enough for his. I was spiraling into negativity and, within minutes, I was in that dark place of “I’m not good enough.”

Usually I sit with this for hours and days; however, tonight, I couldn’t take it, and what I needed to say was busting through. We talked as soon as I took a few breaths and re-centered myself.

I asked him if he was upset. He responded no, but he felt the need to go get the card that instant. I brought up slamming the door, and that it made me feel like there was more to the story.

He agreed that he was upset because I didn’t look up from my phone to answer the question. AHHH relief! He just wanted my full attention during a conversation. He doesn’t think I’m the daughter-in-law or wife from hell.

Me: Why didn’t you just ask me?

Him: I feel like you should’ve known.

Me: I’m not a mind reader and you aren’t a kid. Tell me what you need.

There are so many miscommunications like this between us, like the time when our outside bar fell over in the wind and the glass top broke. He came outside and I said, “Oh it’s broken,” and he said, “Tell me the truth. What happened? Did you break it?”

I was horrified. Where’s the innocent until proven guilty? I felt disrespected and like a liar. After talking about it I realized this happened because our past communication had been like this. Out of fear, I may have told a white lie or left out details.

I further re-centered to realize that I had allowed us to talk this way to each other most of the time. I would get upset and then let it go. I didn’t state what I really thought or felt; not only did this not allow us to grow, but this allowed him to think everything was okay.

I finally found the courage to state my boundary for communication in our marriage, starting with: can we talk.

I would need more openness in our conversations. More direct communication about what you really mean to say rather than expecting that I “should just know.”

I would need you to just say, “Hey, can your put down your phone so I can ask you a question?” Even simply saying, “I’m not sure what to say right now” is better than the silence, the hesitation, the pause, which gives my ego a meaning, a reason to put me down and spiral me into that dark corner.

If you are telling me exactly what you need from me, and I from you, there is no interference, no misinformation, no blame, shame, or guilt in either one of us.

This simple interaction of just talking completely transformed the communication in our marriage. It also gave me the power and strength to express what I will and won’t stand for in our marriage, or in any relationship in my life.

Simply by talking. The energy around us becomes light, and we are able to accept the love that is between us. In honoring our words and our voice, we stand for the greatest human characteristic we have.

Other animals mate, cuddle, and kiss, but talking… that's only a human trait, and it’s the key to all human interaction, since it’s the only way anyone can know what we’re thinking and feeling.

So talk, be vulnerable, say exactly what's on your mind. Truth is, the other person may be thinking the same thing, and you could be the link that reopens communication and makes them feel human again. So let’s just talk…

 Couple talking image via Shutterstock

About Reshma Patel

Reshma Patel has two beautiful daughters. She works as a physical therapist and she loves to write. She created Endless Possibilities blog and Endless Healing Integrative & Holistic Physical Therapy. She hopes to inspire people to heal their bodies, clear their minds and free their spirits, and gain an improved sense of self and body worth.

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  • Excellent, practical information. Great insights. They say the meaning of life is that it has no meaning, except the meaning we give to it. So, here a couple is arguing based upon two completely different realities. It’s really funny when you stop and think about it. Thanks for giving such great examples of communication; it’s the only way to bridge two realities.

  • Ash

    I agree we should communicate openly, but I also think we should “just know” to put our phones down when talking to others. I don’t want to have to ask people to put their phones down when I am communicating with them.

  • Helen mushtaq

    This is wonderful and reminds me that the passive aggressive way my partner and I communicate is really not ok. This has served as a really well needed sign from the universe for me to do some boundary work and encourage us both to state our need. Thank you x

  • lv2terp

    Great post!!!! Communication is key, and when there is history like you mentioned, that is even more difficult to “step up” and be courageous to change it! Congratulations, that is so great! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your experience, and wisdom! I love this…”talking… that’s only a human trait, and it’s the key to all human
    interaction, since it’s the only way anyone can know what we’re thinking
    and feeling.” AWESOME!!!!

  • Annie

    Ahh… such a beautiful post, so simple yet so magical! I feel like I just found out the answer to most of my troubles in interaction with other people. Thank you! 🙂

  • Renee Quick-Chapman

    eh maybe for a real convo but just 1 question about a card..I probably wouldnt honestly.

  • sunpatel

    Awesome Resh your writing is getting killer with each post! The more vulnerable the more relatable … what happens next? Remotes thrown and then an indepth discussion on pain bodies … O wait that’s mine:)

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    So true what you said about the key to COMMUNICATION esp when there is a history of avoiding uncomfortable feelings… However, I have to disagree with both of you about the TALKING part…it is believed that many animals talk including Primates, Dolphins & Whales, Elephants, Birds, etc. According to some social scientists, our capability of REASONING during talking/conversations might be one of the main links that makes us unique from all other animals!

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    “They say the meaning of life is that it has no meaning, except the meaning we give to it.” For some strange reason; I love & detest that quote at the same

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    haha..same here, it drives me crazy! 😛

  • Endless Possibilities

    Thank You Helen for your wonderful feedback. Glad I was able to inspire something for you 🙂

  • Endless Possibilities

    Thank you! Love your synopsis!!

  • Endless Possibilities

    Thank you so much for your awesome feedback 🙂

  • Endless Possibilities

    Thanks for sharing your point. Absolutely animals “talk.” but words, giving things meanings, reasoning yes thats what makes us human and that’s our unique interaction with each other…human to human communication.

  • Endless Possibilities

    AHHH SUN! I await your writing! Thank you for your beautiful feedback. Touches my heart everytime!

  • Endless Possibilities

    THANK YOU ANNIE! To be able to give such a sweet and vulnerable response is real communication. THANK YOU!

  • Endless Possibilities

    Its just like reading a book, if someone is asking you a quick question you probably wouldn’t put the book down but answer and continue reading. You don’t know the other person wants a full conversation and needs your full attention until they communicate it to you.

  • Marchbaby

    Communication is one thing we humans have yet to master, I find that if I try to be open and honest people don’t react too kindly, honesty and truth sometimes lead to hurt feelings, I am still trying to master the art of communicating openly and honestly and not hurting someone’s feelings. Talking is good and we have to continue to talk and continue to work at our relationships.

  • I read the book, The 4 Agreements, and liked the rule not to take anything personal. If you remember this when it seems like someone is saying something unkind you can avoid a lot of hurt feelings. Then we can find the courage to ask questions, like, “Ouch, do you really mean to say it so harshly?” “How do you mean that?” etc. That way we can help to defuse the issue. I think it’s almost always taking it personal that is the problem. Keep it about him and he won’t know how to handle it. There are a lot of techniques like active listening that will help so much.

    When my children were little they would start acting up, one thing after the other. When I saw a pattern emerging I’d ask, “Did you run out of love?” He/she would nod their head and I’d put them on my lap and hold them a minute. Then I’d ask them if they wanted me to fill ’em back up. I’d put my mouth on the back of their shoulder and let the warm air from my breath feel like the love was going back in. Soon, they were happy and could play nicely. I think we all run out of love from time to time. At such times I think a lack of communication and subsequent argument is a call for love. The book, A Course in Miracles, gives a good in-depth rationalization for such a belief.

  • Alex Anderson

    Dear Reshma Patel,

    First of all, thank you very much for spending some of your valuable time for writing such a useful article. I really appreciate it. Keep up the good work. ☺

    Apart from that, I would like to mention a minor mistake (most probably a typo) in your great article.

    The second (and middle) sentence of your fifth paragraph reads: “You know, that tone where you know there’s more to it then what was just uttered.”

    If I’m not wrong, the correct way to write it is: “You know, that tone where you know there’s more to it than what was just uttered.”

    The minor mistake is typing ‘then’ where it should have been typed ‘than’ in that sentence.

    Thank you for reading this comment and hopefully for correcting the typo.

    Kind regards,
    Alex Anderson

  • Banu Sekendur- Intuitive Coach

    This is a great reminder, Reshma. Thank you for writing this. I can tell that it comes out of personal experience. When I finally found my voice and was unapologetic about telling “my truth”, I made a lot of mistakes and pissed people off. I would have liked to have been more graceful and collected (a.k.a. perfect) but I did my best and learned a lot along the way. Speaking up is easier to me now because I don’t do it out of a defensive place, I do it out of self-love. Yes, it’s still imperfect but I make sure that I make an effort to say it in a way that they can hear. Nice work!

  • strangehero

    Good article, but also “Out of fear, I may have told a white lie or left out details.” — that is not 100% straight communication. You either did or did not leave out details in the past. If you want straight communication, it must start with you – and then the other person can also be honest and straight. Otherwise, he will start saying “I may have slammed the door or did not communicate clearly.” No. You DID slam the door and did not communicate clearly. And that’s the reality — but that’s not how we can resolve our problems.

    The closer we are to the facts and recentering on the facts in a loving way (which IS the biggest challenge — not making the other person wrong), the better the other person will take ownership.

  • matthewwtoler

    my best friends aunt got a nearly new blue Nissan Quest Minivan by working part-time from the internet… find more information

  • opa

    just say it before its to late—–love is the answer

  • mi

    I was captivated by the title and even more by the article.. this truly exemplifies the quote that we should write not to impress rather express.. thank you!

  • Annie Hopkins

    I really liked this article. I’m personally struggling with this immensely. I grew up in a home where if you told a parent your feelings then they where used against you. It made it very hard for me to express my feelings later in life. My boyfriend of 3 years has a very easy time telling me when he is upset, or whenever something bothers him. I don’t think he understand just how difficult it is for me to talk about things that bother, frustrate and even hurt me. I will angst over something for weeks or just let it eat at me for months before I bring it up. I always think, “I’ll just get over it. I can get past this. It shouldn’t bother me. I’m just being oversensitive.” Manly I’m just terrified that he will use my feelings against me and make me feel embarrassed or ashamed for being hurt by someone else’s actions. He has depression that he takes medication for, and normally he is very calm and understanding. There’s only been a couple of times, when he is having a depression spell that he has degraded or mocked my feelings. And even though I know that was the depression and I try really hard not to take it personally it really messed up my ability to trust him with my emotions. Our relationship is on the rocks for me, yet he believes everything is fine. I love him and have no intention of leaving him, but I often feel like I am a single person just coexsiting with this man because I have closed myself off so much to him. It’s really hard to say those words. “Can we just talk?” Although I know they are desperately needed.