This article is all about ways to strengthen communication in your relationship, including recognizing common pitfalls to avoid.
Communication is a vital element of our day-to-day life, and without it, creating and managing relationships would be a hassle. Be it in a relationship, social life, or any other interaction; communication is key.
However, communication has not been easy either way. If you’ve been in a relationship, there are chances that you encountered some tense moments with your partner. During these moments, communication tends to be poor or even non-existent.
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Clashing and arguments are quite normal, but the most critical thing for any healthy and lasting relationship is good communication and working towards a more intimate and strong bond. Almost everybody craves connection. We all seek the connection through friends and family, but intimate relationships are where we anticipate getting most of the connections and bonding. And if this is not met, it could lead to arguments, silence, and even walking away.
Therefore communication is essential for a happy and healthy relationship, and it needs the commitment to improve. To do this, first, learn how to listen and not how to talk.
Importance of communication in a relationship
Communication is vital for proper bonding, and without it, the relationship is dead. Your partner is the person you spend much of your time with; therefore, there is a high tendency for conflicts and misunderstandings. But with proper communication, issues will be half solved.
Communication improves intimacy
Improving communication is good for emotional intimacy and can be compassionate to your partner. Finding ways of developing communication skills is a good sign of respect for your partner and their opinions and feelings. When a partner feels accepted and honored, physical intimacy also increases. But lack of communication can make a partner feel disrespected.
Good communication in a relationship implies that you trust your partner, and you can consult them about anything bothering you. This means you can share both happy moments and sad ones. Through this, trust in the relationship will increase.
Promotes better ways of resolving conflicts
Some couples have frequent fights and some don’t. Although every relationship has its ups and downs, frequent fights and no fights show a lack of proper communication. Good relations are not the ones with no disagreements but ones that have ways of resolving the problems appropriately. Those capable of turning disagreements into a strong relationship rather than destroying it. So with good communication, there will always be ways of solving conflicts better.
How to recognize poor communication in a relationship
It will be hard for a relationship to survive without communication— indeed, it won’t work. Partners will be locked into constant communication in a relationship. Leave alone literal words; individuals in a relationship, for example, couples, will communicate unconsciously through nonverbal communication, like body language or facial expressions. In other words, couples in a relationship will communicate through either their voice or behavior and even both forms.
Most couples who don’t realize communication consciousness within themselves will encounter problems in personal situations such as relational growth, conflict, or intimacy. Therefore, understanding your inner world and that of your partner is the key to building a true connection. Once you find that you are struggling to communicate in your relationship most of the time, you need to know that the true connection will grow apart over time.
The absence of communication in relationships shouldn’t be taken for granted, For instance, in the case where you can’t talk to your partner. Lack of communication in a relationship brings about some issues such as:
- One or both partners may feel unknown or unseen
- There is a feeling of loneliness
- Intimacy may seize
- Partners may develop negative perspectives toward each other
- There will be a turn away from each other attempting to connect
- As a couple, the relationship will have a poor setting, and attaining togetherness goals will be difficult
- There will be an escalation of conflict
However, lack of communication may be brought about by poor or bad communication habits. Of course, if one partner or both lack communication skills, there will be the creation of a poor environment that won’t support true connection.
Here are some signs of recognizing poor communication skills while you are communicating in a relationship.
Being too defensive
If you or your partner becomes too defensive about what you or they did, it won’t solve anything.
Being too defensive during an argument with your partner is the practice of aggressive speech. Such communication also involves raising your voice.
Of course, being too defensive with aggressive speech is a sign that you want to dominate the conversation. Therefore, you will be blaming and criticizing your partner.
Arguing about the facts instead of looking forward to how each person has experienced the issue
It is where partners in the relationship will fail to understand how each is feeling because the focus is too strong on perspective or facts (for example, correcting your partner’s grammar).
Fewer attempts to build a true connection
If you fail to take action to communicate severely over some existing issues, it will lead to failures in true connection. Soon enough it will feel as though you and your partner are living separate lives under one roof.
Falling into old patterns of communication and/or arguing about unresolved issues can feel like a cyclical trap that you both have fallen into.
This is where you or your partner may not address the conflict head-on but instead, in a way, by expressing hidden anger. For example:
- Punishing your partner for being late by not talking to them or cracking jokes about the lateness
- When they make a decision, you make digs
- Giving a cold shoulder or silent treatment
Although passive aggressiveness will give the power to express frustration, at the moment, it may look satisfying to the offended partner. However, it won’t serve you any favors in the long run and instead add salt to the wound.
Belittling or criticizing each other
If you are talking with your partner and start criticizing or belittling them, it is a sign that you have entered into a toxic communication pattern. Many times this is a sure sign of conflict ready to escalate and it can quickly turn into more hurt with name-calling, mocking, put-downs, etc.
Assuming you know what your partner is thinking
It will bring a negative perception or even raise more conflict when you assume you know what the person is thinking. Assumptions are a way for us to feel “in control” because there is more certainty that may be tied to that story or meaning that we are telling ourselves, but those dots we are trying to connect may not be accurate.
How to improve communication in a relationship
Communication can either build or destroy a relationship. It marks the difference between a conflict-filled relationship that ends in disappointments or a healthy lifelong partnership. Learning how to improve communication in relationships is vital, and here are ways you can improve it.
Identify your styles of communication
You cannot improve on something you don’t understand. Before improving your communication, you first need to understand that people have different communication styles and might not work in all relationships. There are four major communication styles, assertive, passive, aggressive, and passive-aggressive passive communication styles often hide emotions and rarely have a no in it.
Aggressive communicators are often intense and loud and find it hard to connect. On the other hand, passive-aggressive communicators often use sarcasm to communicate and, in most cases, try to avoid conflicts. Assertive communicators tend to be the best communicators; they are often in touch with feelings and can communicate effectively despite the intensity of their feelings. We also have preferences or love languages.
As you understand your feelings, what about your partner? Are they comfortable with the communication style you use? Try to watch your partner and understand which style fits them. For example, using words to kinetic people would not be enough; you need to reinforce whatever you say with actions or behaviors.
Try to identify if your partner's needs are being met
A relationship is all about giving and taking. You can not expect to be just receiving and getting satisfied without considering the needs of the other and expecting your partner to be at peace.
The best way to improve communication is to know if your partner’s needs are met. A sure way to determine this is by asking the right questions and listening to them deeply. Think about what your partner says; if you don’t get it well, ask for clarification from them by restating what they have said.
Listening to our partners is key to better communication. With poor listening skills, you can never understand your partner even if they directly communicate what is bothering them. Employ proper turn-taking skills while communicating, and wait for them to finish what they are saying without interrupting them. However, do not just wait to talk but listen calmly with an open mind, ready to hear what your partner says. This will help build a proper connection with your partner since you will better understand their needs.
Be open and honest
A relationship full of lies and secrets will never succeed. Being open and honest is the ideal way to keep the relationship going and improve communications.
Communicate clearly what you mean and need. Avoiding conflict is a temporary way of solving an ongoing issue but will never promote trust. Keeping away issues from another and keeping quiet on them will lead to the eventual breakdown of the relationship. Being open and honest will allow you to communicate better with your spouse.
Commit to true connection
Communication is not all about talking or making a conversation. Communication is all about making connections and using written, physical and verbal skills to meet your partner’s needs. It is all about small talk but about understanding your partner’s point of view, giving support, and letting them know that you are there for them.
Communicate to your partner about rekindling your connection and a good starting point. But don’t force it if your partner is not on board or does not reciprocate your efforts.
Be present in your relationship
There is no relationship if you aren’t present in your relationship. To improve your communication in your relationships, you first need to be there and understand what your partner wants.
No matter how busy your schedule is, set aside some time for your partner and dedicate yourself to communicating with them. Let them feel that they have your full attention and are the top priority to you.
However, being attentive and fully present is hard, so you have to be mindful and aware whenever you are working on things that can take away time from your relationship or when you are angry. While this is normal, don’t let it be an excuse for not communicating with your partner. Love, intimacy, and trust are built during hard times and not when easy. If people give up at any sign of resistance, there will be no room for evolution and progress. Make use of these opportunities to learn how you can deal with relationship stress and conflict in a healthy way.
Communication pitfalls to avoid
In communication, some things should be avoided by all means.
1. Walking away without a plan to return
Walking away amid an argument can be helpful if you are so overwhelmed with emotion that it’s no longer a productive conversation. Instead, let your partner know you are upset and need some time to cool down and offer a time to return, ideally within the next 24 hours. Keep your word, and bring up the topic to try again when you feel more regulated.
2. Silent treatment
Most people often adopt the silent treatment as they think it effectively sets boundaries. However, this is not true. Boundaries can work best after explicit communication with a partner. It is important to be assertive about a boundary rather than assuming that the other part knows why and how you are hurt. Silence and ignorance can cause more damage to a relationship than building.
3. Bringing up past issues
It is always easy for partners to keep bringing the past into an argument. This regular dredging of past mistakes can be counterproductive and make the partners more defensive. When things from the past are brought into the conversation it’s an easy way for it to get off track and quickly escalate the conflict further.
4. Screaming or yelling
Sometimes you can find yourself yelling or screaming during an argument, but the rise of voice is often ineffective. This can lead to more intense arguments and possible reactivation of past situations when your partner has been yelled at—leaving your partner with feelings of not being safe and respected.
5. Disrespectful nonverbal behaviors
Communicating is not only through talking; body language or nonverbal cues can communicate a lot. For example, being busy on your phone rather than looking at them, giggling while talking, or even looking at them in an unfriendly manner can make the other paper feel disrespected. So, ensure you watch out for your body language while communicating.
Communication is the pillar of any relationship; without it, then no partner-to-partner connection within a particular setting. Most relationships end up not working due to failure to identify what brings about their communication. Poor communication can exist without the consent of the partners.
Taking caution about what may result after communicating is the key to ensuring healthy communication in the relationship.
In other words, a partner needs to consider their approach to talking to their partner, whether through body language, facial expressions, or literal words, all bring an effect. There is also a need for a partner to avoid what brings about poor communication and breaking healthy relationships with the other partner.