Q. I am a 45 year old single female who really desires to have a relationship. I have finally learned the importance of boundaries and having deal breakers. But what really concerns me is what I see in so many of my married friends. Their communication is often ineffective or totally absent. I don’t want someone who does not value healthy communication. What is happening to this very important interaction?
— Diane

Your observation is unfortunately pervasive. It is very troubling when so many relationships and marriages are infected with the communication virus. The bad news is once the virus is officially diagnosed, it does not go away without intensive treatment. It can be ignored, denied and/or avoided for only so long.
Almost every problem experienced in the relationship could be easier to deal with if active communication was practiced. This is also called intimacy. It may be the most important intimate act for the couple.
The prognosis for this virus, without treatment, is predictably deadly.
If we continue to lose the verbal intimacy we will continue to have a high divorce rate, extra-marital affairs, more time in casinos, etc.
What are the reasons that people choose to be in a relationship?
** to have a monogamous partner
** to have someone to share all aspects of life
** to have an intimate physical relationship
** to have children
** to have someone who is your best friend (or at least one of them)
Healthy relationships are about talking, listening, asking questions, making eye contact and showing care and concern.
If both people are participating in the treatment plan, going to counseling, reading books, journaling and practicing healthier communication, the virus can be cured. It takes time and ongoing practice to create healthier intimacy. There are many couples who have been successful with this plan.
So Diane, don’t give up. Pay attention to the communication styles of people you meet.