Every relationship has its ups and downs and many couples peg poor communication as the reason for those downs. Relationship communication can strengthen or weaken the bond between two partners depending on how effective it is. And while it is completely normal to have the occasional barrier when talking to one another, prolonged communication issues in relationships can lead to even bigger problems. Before you and your partner get to that point, there are some steps you can take to get your communication back on track. First, though, you need to understand where those problems stem from.
Why Do I Struggle to Communicate With My Partner?
There are several reasons why you may struggle to communicate with your partner. For one, you may not understand your own feelings. You may feel hurt, upset, distant, etc., but you don’t know why you feel that way. Without understanding why you feel the way you do, you have a much harder time conveying to your partner what you need. This can lead to frustration with your partner for misunderstanding you.
You may also struggle to communicate with your partner simply because you were taught growing up to communicate a particular way. Perhaps you were taught to internalize your feelings, which makes it much harder as an adult to communicate them. Or perhaps as a child you unknowingly developed unhealthy or aggressive communication habits or patterns. Additionally, some families have a culture of “asking” or of “guessing” when it comes to meeting needs and expressing wants. For example, some people feel around the edges of a question and feel a need to guess the answer because they don’t feel like it’s appropriate to ask for things directly. All of this can cause you to lash out at or pull away from your partner rather than looking both within yourself and at your partner’s perspective.
Fear can also make it harder for you to communicate with your partner. When you have very real, very raw feelings that you have to share, you have to be vulnerable. You open yourself up to being hurt and potentially hurting your partner. That thought alone can scare many from talking about their feelings. However, this vulnerability is necessary to build trust and forge a strong relationship with your partner.
No matter what reasons there are for the lack of communication in your relationship, know that it’s never too late to work through them. A trained couples therapist like ours here at Well Marriage Center will go beyond the communication exercises you may expect to uncover the root issue(s) behind your struggle to communicate. From there, you and your partner can both learn to heal and move forward together.
What Can a Couple Do to Develop Their Communication Skills?
There are a few ways to improve communication in a relationship, one of which is to take the time to think through why you feel the way you do and how best to communicate that to your partner. When you truly understand your feelings, you’ll have a much easier time expressing them to your partner. Remember that when you do, use an assertive style of communication as opposed to an aggressive one. This style emphasizes openness and honesty while also respecting your partner and their feelings as well. Respectful communication in relationships is the first step to understanding your partner and working through problems as a team rather than as opponents.
Part of respectful communication, too, is listening to your partner. That does not mean that you listen to figure out what you want to say next or to prove your point. Rather, it means listening with your heart open so that you can understand why your partner feels as they do or has been acting a particular way. Listening in this way will also allow you to empathize with your partner.
Once you share your feelings and listen to those of your partner, you’ll have a much simpler time finding common ground with them. That means that, even if you do not agree on something or have been hurt by the other person, you can compromise and make a plan to move forward. It means that no matter what problems arise or what disagreements you have, you are still in the person’s corner when they need you. Finding common ground breeds trust and respect in relationships.
Improving communication won’t happen overnight. And it’s completely normal to have no idea where to start or how to work through previous trauma. Many couples turn to marriage therapy and relationship counseling to help with improving their communication, and that’s a great step to take! We at Well Marriage Center want your relationship to succeed as much as you do. We will give you the support you need every step through your journey towards effective communication.
Well Marriage Center: The Place for Effective Couples Communication Therapy
If you and your partner want to learn how to overcome barriers in communication, turn to Well Marriage Center. Our therapists have worked with thousands of couples and have seen all sorts of styles of communication. They also know how to find the deeper issue causing your problems so that you not only work through your current slump in communication, but can better communicate in future disagreements as well. Get started with one of our therapists and see a world of difference in your relationship.