From lack of listening to accusatory statements, resolving relationship communication issues is essential for couples to respect one another. Many couples list communication as a major problem when tension builds in their relationship and it’s easy to see how it can feel like the most prominent issue. But how can you address communication problems head-on?
Let’s take a look:
- How to fix communication in a relationship in 10 steps
- Signs of poor communication in marriage
- Reasons for lack of communication in a relationship
It’s also important to note that, even though people often think the main problem is communication, it is typically not the most significant issue. There are usually deeper issues at play that show up through how we interact with our partners. Well Marriage Center can help you fix both communication and any other pressing underlying issues you might be experiencing. Let’s dive into solutions for poor communication.
How Do You Fix Lack of Communication in a Relationship?
Poor communication is a problem many couples face, but you can actively work to improve in many ways, including actively listening, being open and honest, and creating goals together. While finding a solution to communication problems in your marriage or relationship can be a challenge, there are a few things you can do to address the issues. And if you’re looking for advice on lack of communication in a relationship, we have a few steps you can take to start mending your relationship and communication errors:
1. Recognize Poor Communication
Pinpointing the areas in which you and your partner need better communication can be difficult. There’s usually a reason why couples struggle and it’s important to know exactly where and how you’re failing to communicate. However, it’s important to understand that passive aggressive behavior, ignoring your partner’s perspective, having cyclical arguments, and blaming one another for issues are all indicators of poor communication. Once you recognize that you’re struggling to communicate, you’ll be able to take steps to have a stronger connection with your partner.
2. Find Similarities
You and your partner are a team, not rivals. If you’re struggling to communicate, it can be beneficial to ground your relationship in things where you share common perspectives. It’s okay if you disagree occasionally, but finding similarities in how you approach conversations and what those conversations are about is an important step in fixing communication issues. You might consider questions like:
- What things are most important to you as a couple?
- What is the best way to approach a problem?
- What solutions do you agree work?
- How can you approach things you disagree on in a productive way?
3. Be Open and Honest
It’s not easy being vulnerable with people, but that shouldn’t be the case with your partner. Having a safe space where you can be open and honest about any concerns is essential for a supportive and strong relationship. Honesty is the bedrock of successful relationships, and if you don’t feel safe sharing your honest perspective, it will be difficult to feel secure in your partnership. Of course, it’s not a one way street. You should also be taking steps to make your partner feel comfortable as well.
4. Actively Listen
Having a conversation isn’t always about talking about your own feelings and perspectives. You also need to learn to actively listen to your partner. According to Psychology Today, “Active listening is about making a conscious decision to hear what people are saying. It’s about being completely focused on others—their words and their messages—without being distracted.” That means listening to understand rather than to respond. If you’re only waiting to hear where you can interject, you’re not listening to what they’re saying. Formulating your response while they’re talking leads to trouble communicating in the future, as they might not want to be vulnerable if you’re not listening.
5. Set Clear Boundaries
Sometimes, one partner can cross boundaries and they might not even know it. It’s important for couples to set clear boundaries when they’re trying to communicate better, because it provides a line in the sand that you should not cross. If a boundary for your partner is time between a frustrating or tense situation, it’s best to give them space to work through their emotions before you start a conversation. Once you cross a partner’s boundaries, it can lead to more built up tensions, resentment, and even silence between each other. Boundaries need to be respected by both partners to ensure more effective communication.
6. Create Goals and Compromise
It’s always better to set goals for you to strive for as a couple. How do you handle money? What does your partner need to feel safe? Do you feel comfortable giving something up to help your partner feel comfortable? Once you both have goals in mind, you might have to compromise a bit to get what you both need, but ultimately it will give you something to work toward. This helps you approach any conflicts as a team and sets a baseline for what is expected.
7. Use “I” Statements
When you’re in the heat of the moment, it can be easy to use accusatory statements like “You never talk to me when you’re with your friends!” The best way to approach conversations with a partner is to use “I” statements. In this instance, try saying “I feel worried when you don’t text me that you’re safe when you’re out with your friends.” Phrasing your concerns this way frames your feelings as the focal point, rather than telling your partner what you think they’re doing wrong.
8. Be Present
Being present during communication with your partner means you need to be in the moment while having conversations, rather than having your mind on other things. Without being present, it is easy to gloss over important issues or information that could help you and your partner work together through an issue. This doesn’t mean you listen to respond, but actively listening is a large part of being present during conversations. You should know your partner’s concerns and how they would like things to change and respond with meaningful solutions or questions.
9. Choose the Right Time
Not every time is the right time to bring up an issue with your partner. Even if you’ve had an argument recently, sometimes people need space to think about how to approach a conversation. It’s also not beneficial to start difficult conversations in public settings or around other people. Choosing the right time means starting the conversation when it is best for both parties, even if that means waiting for longer than you’d like.
10. Check In Regularly
It can be beneficial for some couples to check in—or do a temperature check—to see how the other person is feeling, address any concerns, and discuss any solutions if needed. Giving your partner the time and space in regular intervals to speak with you is important to stop any anger or resentment from building up.
While there are several ways to improve communication in a relationship, it’s important to take the first step into healing, which can start with couples therapy. With a marriage counselor, like those at Well Marriage Center, you can focus on not only the misunderstandings you might have with your partner, but also the underlying causes of your communication problems. With a focus on amplifying your strengths as a couple, you can rebuild your relationship on a solid foundation.
What Is Normal Communication in a Relationship?
Because every couple is different, there is no “normal” communication. But all communication should be respectful, open and honest, and considerate of both partners. Without giving both people the opportunity to speak their perspective, it becomes a one-sided conversation, which won’t resolve any problems. Not only that, but you should both be able to say how you feel without the other person feeling unsafe or unheard.
But how can you tell when you and your partner are having communication problems?
What Are Signs of Bad Communication in a Marriage?
Bad communication can show itself in many forms, like passive aggressiveness, ignoring and stonewalling, and rehashing arguments. Because everyone communicates in a different way, it’s not always easy to be on the same page with your spouse. But poor communication in a relationship can have serious repercussions. Couples that don’t use effective communication techniques may suffer with intimacy, disagreements, and relationship growth. You might notice that you’re gradually drifting apart from your partner when you have problems connecting with one another through communication.
It’s important to identify the areas that need improvement before you start to work on your communications skills. So what are signs of bad communication in a relationship you and your spouse should look out for?
1. Displaying Passive Aggressive Behavior
If one person in a relationship continuously displays passive aggressive behavior, you might find it difficult to have direct and open communication. When someone is passive aggressive, they have a tendency to express negative emotions indirectly rather than clearly—like saying, “No, I’m fine,” instead of communicating their concerns or needs. According to the Mayo Clinic, when someone responds this way, it can lead to resentment of each other and opposition to expectations. It’s also stated that passive aggression leads to “resistance to cooperation, procrastination and intentional mistakes in response to others’ demands.” When a partner is passive aggressive, it can greatly halt communication and take significant time to overcome problems.
2. Ignoring Your Partner’s Perspective
If you or your partner do not listen to each other’s perspective during a heated discussion, it’s difficult to take their feelings into consideration. How does it make them feel? What solution do they think is best? How can you make them feel more comfortable? No one is always right, but understanding how your partner views the situation or problem is essential to finding a solution. The Gottman Institute emphasizes that you and your partner are on the same team and both of your feelings are valid. Once you consider their perspective, you can begin to bridge the gap.
3. Rehashing Arguments
When things don’t change, it can feel like you and your partner are recycling the same argument over and over. Unfortunately, it’s been shown that 69% of conflicts aren’t resolved between couples experiencing disagreements. While it’s possible the issue stems from “fundamental differences in your personalities that repeatedly create conflict or fundamental differences in your lifestyle needs,” these cyclical arguments can indicate that couples have difficulty implementing solutions. If you’re rehashing arguments, it’s important to stop and listen to one another and come up with a solution that is beneficial to both parties.
4. Blaming and Deflecting Responsibility
Blaming a partner for issues in your relationship can get overwhelming fairly quickly. While it’s not helpful to say, “It’s your fault,” it might be difficult to let go of resentment against your partner. Blaming can also lead to triggering your partner, introducing unrealistic expectations, and highlighting emotional immaturity. In most situations, both partners contribute to a problem. It’s important to recognize your part in the issue and not just what you think your partner has done. Not only is it important to have an open dialogue, but you both should feel safe with each other, as partners and in conversations. If you or your partner don’t feel safe, then communication can quickly become you vs. them.
5. Stonewalling Conversations
Communication isn’t successful if there’s no conversation to begin with. If you or your partner ignore the other person when an issue arises, it can prevent necessary discussions from happening. While some couples might have concerns about conversation dwindling over time, it’s always important to talk about any concerns or issues that arise.
Of course these aren’t the only signals of bad communication between partners. If someone brings up past mistakes unrelated to the issue, starts yelling, or uses sarcasm, you might also find communication is difficult. At Well Marriage Center, we know that communication is an important concern couples have. But communication doesn’t have to be the root of the problem. In fact, more often than not there’s a deeper issue that needs to be addressed but can’t because of bad communication. Working with a licensed marriage counselor can help you identify and confront these issues with guidance in a safe space.
What Causes Lack of Communication in Marriage?
Communication can break down due to many issues, but typically it happens when partners have differing communication styles and expectations. Here are a few potential causes of poor communication between couples:
- Having little one-on-one time to talk and listen
- Lying frequently when questioned about problems
- Avoiding discussion because attempts to communicate often result in confrontations
- Lacking intimacy between partners emotionally and physically
- Refusing to consider a partner’s perspective
- Having unrealistic expectations of a partner’s ability to talk about issues
Unfortunately, the effects of lack of communication in a relationship can take a toll on you and your partner. You might be left unable to speak with your partner about anything, because you’re experiencing some of the lack of communication skills. At Well Marriage Center, you can focus on what’s most important to fix your communication and other significant issues that you face as a couple.
How Does Lack of Communication Affect Marriage?
Being unable to communicate can lead to a poor and potentially damaged relationship. Being able to discuss and resolve issues in a healthy way is essential to maintaining a long-lasting and happy marriage or relationship. Of course communication is rarely the main issue couples face; it can be a symptom of other underlying issues, like past traumas, lack of trust or, holding resentment.
How Many Marriages Fail Because of Lack of Communication?
If you’re looking to answer, “Can a marriage survive lack of communication?” and “How many relationships fail because of communication?” A survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) found that communication issues account for roughly 67.5 percent of marriage failures. That means that most couples find their main issue is with communication and not something else, like infidelity. However, at Well Marriage Center, we’ve met with a lot of couples and find that communication isn’t always the root cause of the problems they’re facing. Communication is just one aspect of many that couples should address before considering divorce.
What Is the Best Solution to Lack of Communication in a Marriage? Quality, Professional Help.
If you think you need help with communication and other underlying problems, Well Marriage Center helps couples tackle their marital concerns head on. While communication might be what is most important when you start your sessions, you can quickly find that there are other issues you’re facing in your marriage. We would love to help you rebuild your relationship based on your strengths as a couple. If you’d like to set an appointment, reach out to our Intake Coordinator Melinda and she will help you get started on your healing journey.