Improving relationship communication isn’t easy, but it is doable with the right steps. If you’ve been researching answers for any of the following challenges, then you’re already on the right path.
- How do I fix poor communication in my marriage?
- I don’t know how to communicate with my husband
- I don’t know how to communicate with my wife
That’s because the first step in any solution to lack of communication in marriage is acknowledging the problem and wanting to solve it. In this blog, we explore ways to communicate better with your partner, whether they’re withdrawn, aggressive, or somewhere in between.
What Causes Poor Communication in a Marriage?
A wide variety of factors can contribute to poor communication in a marriage, including:
- Lack of dedicated time to communicate one-on-one
- Unhealed trauma from childhood or past relationships
- Mental health challenges, like anxiety and depression
- Lack of healthy and productive communication skills
These contributing factors aren’t always obvious. Sometimes, you may just get the sense that communication with your partner is off. In situations like this, it can help to start with the signs of poor communication and work backwards to find the root cause.
Examples of Poor Communication
Here are some signals that you and your partner need to improve your communication skills:
- Lack of compromise
- Consistent interrupting
- Aggressive communication styles
- Placing blame
- Fear of sharing true feelings
- Assuming the worst intentions from your partner
- The silent treatment
- Deflecting difficult conversations with humor
If you notice any of the above signs in your marriage, then there are steps you can take to improve communication with your partner. Fortunately, just because you notice communication challenges doesn’t necessarily mean that your marriage is in danger. Instead, you can take the opportunity to improve communication and your relationship.
Benefits of Healthy Communication
The benefits of healthy communication in a relationship include:
- Better conflict resolution
- Increased trust
- Improved intimacy
- Lower stress levels
- Stronger sense of belonging to a team
Not sure where to start? Working with a marriage counselor can provide you and your partner a safe, neutral space to share your perspective. If expressing your feelings isn’t one of your (or your partner’s) strengths, that’s okay, too. At Well Marriage Center, our counselors guide couples through exercises that help you develop healthy communication skills.
How Do I Deal with My Husband Who Doesn’t Want To Communicate (Or My Wife)?
If your partner doesn’t want to communicate, the first step is to understand why they are avoiding difficult conversations. Here are some common reasons why people shut down during confrontation:
- They don’t know how to express themselves
- They’re overwhelmed
- They don’t want to escalate things or make them worse
- The misinterpret needs or complaints as blame, and feel like a failure
- Specific topics of confrontation may be triggers from their past
For many couples, it can be easy to blame gender for certain behaviors that make communication difficult. For example, boys are often raised to ignore vulnerable emotions, according to Psychology Today. These expectations lead to men who repress their feelings and rely on anger and frustration for emotional outlets. On the other hand, women may struggle with expressing their feelings because they can fear being labeled as “emotional” or “hysterical,” states a Forbes article that explores how women’s emotions are perceived in professional settings.
However, while societal expectations on gender and emotional expression can help identify why your partner has difficulty communicating, those expectations don’t tell the full story. Jumping to conclusions like “He doesn’t want to open up because he’s a man,” or “She’s only upset about this because she’s a woman” ignore the unique challenges that your spouse may be experiencing.
Working with a marriage counselor can help you and your partner explore the nuances of your communication barriers. Whether those challenges are from societal pressures, overwhelming responsibilities, underdeveloped communication skills, or other factors, the licensed professionals at Well Marriage Center are here to help improve the communication in your marriage.
How To Communicate with Your Spouse when Angry
If you and your spouse are angry during a conversation, the most important steps to take are to:
- Ensure your safety
- Focus on de-escalation
Shouting matches can be frightening, and if either you or your spouse feel in danger, then effective communication will be impossible. If necessary, create physical space between you and your partner. Going to separate rooms may be enough, or one of you may need to leave the house for a walk or drive. In extreme cases, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233. More resources on our crisis links page here.)
When you feel safe, work on de-escalating the confrontation. During a shouting match, it’s natural to want to outdo your spouse and place blame or scream personal attacks. While doing so may release pent-up frustration in the short-term, it will only cause further challenges in the long-term. Instead, try to steer the conversation back to the problem rather than at one another. It’s also important to recognize how you and your partner process emotions. You may only need a few minutes to recenter, but your partner may need to sleep on it before they’re ready to revisit the conversation.
Setting aside time and space to have difficult conversations can also help prevent outbursts because you are both starting from a place of cooperation rather than a fight. Working with a marriage counselor is an effective way to work through challenges and build healthy communication skills in a safe, guided space.
How To Start Communicating with Your Spouse Again
Improving communication with your spouse takes intentional effort from both people, and the following communication exercises for teams can be a great place to start:
- Transition away from blaming your partner and express yourself with “I” statements
- Give your partner several minutes at a time to express themselves to minimize interruptions
- Include time for positive, light-hearted conversations so every interaction isn’t associated with hard work
- Schedule regular time for difficult conversations so you have time to gather your thoughts
- Get away from the distractions of your house to place focus on you, your partner, and the challenges you want to overcome together
At Well Marriage Center, we use these techniques and more to help you and your spouse find common ground again. We take a marriage-first approach, meaning that our goal is to guide you toward a happier and healthier relationship. Schedule an appointment and start improving communication in your marriage.