Many of us know in our minds that communication is an important part of relationships, but many of us don't realize just how important it can be. There are a lot of issues that may come along as a result of bad communication, and if we don't address it it in a prompt and healthy manner, it can actually end up causing a lot more problems than necessary. Some of the main reasons that people end up falling apart or getting divorced is because of misunderstandings that happen as a result of poor communication. But what can we do about it? How can we fix the way that we communicate with each other? How do we learn how to talk to each other in a healthy way that allows us to thrive instead of just merely "get by" in our relationships? That's what we're going to explore today, and we hope that it is able to help you find a way to communicate better in your relationships than you ever have before.
Communication is the Number One Reason for Relationship Problems
If you look at all of the people in today's world that get in arguments or get divorced, you will see one big thing that comes up - "they didn't talk to me about their issues." This is a really big problem, because if you aren't talking to your spouse about what is going on in your life, you're going to start and see a lot of issues crop up in your daily life, even if they aren't related to the big thing that is causing the problem. Communication breakdown is an unhealthy and, honestly, scary thing to go through.
Even the couples that are like "we don't love each other anymore" say that the problem came down to communication. Whether it was the fact that they were arguing all of the time, or that one (or both) spouses did not pay attention to the needs of the other, or whatever, it usually has to do with the fact that they weren't talking and telling each other how they felt without it devolving into an argument. That's frustrating and difficult for a lot of people to work through, so it's no wonder these sorts of things happen.
So yes, it is incredibly important to communicate. Without communication, you don't know how the other person is feeling or thinking. Are they having a hard time at work? Are they feeling overwhelmed by being a parent? Do they need something, but they haven't told you? Opening up the door to communication plays a vital role in holding a relationship together, so by taking the time to do that, you could be preventing a host of problems that may come up if they aren't taken care of quickly.
How to Communicate Better with Your Partner or Spouse
Okay, so now that we know that relationship problems play a significant role in this whole thing, what are we supposed to do about it? How can we make it so that our communication is better than it had ever been before? Here are some things that can help you to communicate better with your partner or spouse and to help repair some of the damage that may have been done as a result of hurtful words and miscommunication in the past. Use these to help you out, and you'll find that you make progress.
Practice active listening as a regular part of your conversations. This is hard to get into if you aren't used to it, but it can play an incredibly significant role in helping you and your spouse to feel like you're being validated. Ask questions about what people say to you. Take time to sit there and listen without making judgments. Look at them, nod, and repeat what they've said back to them in order to make sure that you fully understand what they are trying to say. By doing this, you can reduce the number of misunderstandings and you can make your partner feel as if you truly care about what they are saying.
Use "I" statements instead of "you" statements. This is huge, and it takes a lot of time for you to get into. But once you get into the habit of making "I" statements, you'll find that your communication goes much more smoothly. For example, if your spouse said something that hurt your feelings, don't just say "you hurt my feelings when you said (insert whatever they said here)." Instead, you want to make sure that you break down that wall of anger and hurt and say "I felt hurt when this happened" or "My feelings were hurt when this was said." By taking the accusatory "you" out of it (even though it may be their fault), it prevents them from getting as defensive, and it prevents you from getting as angry as well. It's hard to change the way we talk, but if we take the time to do so, we'll be better off.
Try to look at things from their point of view before reacting in a particular way. It's hard to see the big picture sometimes, and that's okay - it's a struggle, and it takes time for us to get into the habit of doing so. But, that being said, it's a very important part of opening communication. Many times, we will make a snap decision and look at it from just our angle - how it hurts us, how it affects us - but if we do that, we can become much more angry and communication breaks down quickly. By taking the time to look through their eyes, you may see something that you didn't consider.
Do not interrupt them while they are talking; this may cause them to become frustrated or defensive. Don't interrupt people! This is part of active listening, but I felt like it deserved its own section about it. For some reason, in our society, we like to interrupt people while they're talking because we think we know what we're going to say. When talking to people and working out differences, we have to make sure that we actually listen to what they're saying instead of what we think that they are saying. That means being quiet until they have said everything that is on their minds and that they want to say to you before making a reply or asking questions to clarify. It's hard, especially if you are used to stopping people in the middle of what they're saying before they're actually done talking.
Don't get defensive. This can be really hard, but even if your partner isn't offering you the active listening and the use of "I" statements, you need to bite your tongue and try to not get overexcited about what is going on. If you get defensive, it will just end in a yelling match and that's not going to help anyone get anything across to each other. Instead, you want to speak calmly and logically, even if things seem to be getting out of hand for one reason or another. Easier said than done, I know, but with some practice and time, you can master this important step.
Make sure to pay attention to the nonverbal communication that you are offering them. Nonverbals are so important! If you're standing there with your arms crossed and a scowl on your face, you're expressing to your partner that you are closed to what they are saying. You want to make sure that your body is open. Put your hands to your sides, or fold them in front of you. If you're sitting, sit forward and look attentive. If you're standing, stand casually but look as if you're paying attention. Bad nonverbals can make a bad situation or argument that much worse for both of you. By offering an open view of yourself, it will help both of you to be more comfortable with the situation.
If the conversation gets stressful, make sure to stop, breathe, and think a moment before replying to what they're saying. This goes hand in hand with not being defensive, but it's an important point to make. Think before you speak - if you start going off on them, you may say things that you regret. Stopping, breathing, and thinking isn't always going to save you from saying things that you don't really mean, but it makes the chance of you saying them that much lower. So stop and breathe, don't panic, and don't feel like you have to shoot off an answer right after they're done speaking. Also, it shows your partner that you're serious about good communication because you're actually thinking about what is coming out of your mouth.
If the conversation gets too heated, suggest that you both take time away from it to cool down and then come back to the conversation. Sometimes, you have to walk away for a short period of time in order to get the conversation back on track. Even if it's only a 15 minute "time out," it can play a significant role in helping to prevent further arguing and anger. Sometimes, it can make it worse - but sometimes, it can make it better. You just have to gauge the particular situation and see, but make sure that you're willing to take a break for a few minutes if it means that you will be more level headed and better able to talk to your loved one.
So, as you can see, there are a lot of things that you can do in order to make sure that your communication is regular and healthy. It will take practice, and it may take compromise on both of your parts, but the more you work on your communication, the better off both of you and everyone around you will be. If you need help finding out how to communicate better, there are a lot of resources that you can use in order to get help. In some cases, therapy may be necessary, and it may be a simple way for you and your spouse to get back on the right track. Use our resources to find a therapist that can help you today and you can start on the path to having a healthy relationship once again.
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