4 ways Couples Hit Communication Walls
Before the shit hits the fan, learn the communication problems couples run into and how to rectify them all.
Couples who can’t communicate tend to lose their cool when they struggle to make their partner see things their way or they get defensive when feeling attacked. There’s bickering and arguing that seems to go in circles until hands are thrown up and both parties give up. Respect and trust is lost. This is a communication crisis.
Couples who don’t learn to communicate effectively can face problems with relational growth, intimacy, conflict resolution, having a negative perspective of their partner, and overall fulfillment. The goal is to have your partner (and them to experience the same) understand what exactly goes on in your world. Not just the outward obvious stuff. But the inner goodness that makes you jive and thrive in a joint effort.
The struggle gets real when each party refuses to do their part (yes, it can also be a one sided struggle) and you grow apart over time. You must do the work on yourself at the same time as work in harmony with your partner.
The most common issues that pop up in relationships are:
1) BLAME – blaming each other for the way YOU feel. ‘I wouldn’t feel like this if you hadn’t done X,Y,Z’ is very common. You may find yourself thinking or outright accusing your partner of not getting along because they aren’t doing X,Y,Z or do X,Y,Z too much!"
Remedy: use ‘I’ instead of ‘you.’ ‘You’ places blame. Instead of ‘you make me feel like I’m doing nothing around here while you sit on your butt. I wish you would get up and help a little’ try ‘I feel overwhelmed by what I need to do and like my needs aren’t important. I need help around the house.’ You can see that already, that feels less attacky.
2) SUPERIORITY AND DISMISSIVENESS – eye-rolling, sarcasm, name calling, mocking, etc suggests superiority and dismissing the other person. Sighing and waving your hand in dissmissal also falls into that category.
Remedy: instead of ’you’re a complete fool/jackass/insert name here’ try ‘I can see why you feel that way and I’d like to hear your needs right now so we can come to an agreement and both be happy.’ Sounds like the former is so much easier to roll off your tongue but trust me, the latter diffuses situations in a heartbeat and shows respect (which you will receive in return).
3) SILENCE – when listeners feel overwhelmed, they shut down and refuse to engage in conversation. They may give the cold shoulder and go into silent mode. Overwhelm can feel like anxiety, tight throat, stomach pains or knots, body vibrating and wanting to explode. You or your partner may indeed, explode by saying ‘I can’t take this anymore’ or ‘why are you always on my tail’ or even ’I’m done with this all’ thus throwing in the towel.
Remedy: take a break. Self soothe by walking away, taking deep breaths and make arrangements to revisit this conversation at a later date. Be sure to come back to the issue at hand and notice how much calmer you both are.
4) DEFENSIVENESS – naturally, a person will get defensive when they feel attacked or criticized. Defensiveness may appear as switching blame back onto the attacker and playing innocent or the victim. You’ll use defensiveness because of hurt feelings. Recognize that.
Remedy: rather than ’you’re always making us late for work!’ try ‘we need to work on a strategy so we’re both prepared and on time. Can we discuss this?’ I know it’s a knee jerk reaction to want to throttle the other person when you’re late day after day but coming up with a plan together not only will lower your stress around the situation, but allow your partner to see you’re willing to work on this as a team.
Becoming completely open and vulnerable allows for the best success at communication. Not being afraid to tell your partner your needs in a non confrontational way, talking about your past and communication styles you witnessed and agreeing to make everything ‘on the table’ will allow for a communication style that just gets easier and easier to put into practice.