Communication problems are one of the biggest relationship killers that I see in my one on one coaching sessions. I don’t want to sugarcoat that at all, especially because it can be so easily avoided! I work with people day in and day out who are struggling with overcoming challenges in their relationships, and in the majority of cases, the deeper issue is actually communication.
In other words, the fights and arguments they are having are simply a symptom of the real problem: lack of proper communication.
It is for that reason that I wanted to write today’s article for you. I want to go over the biggest communication failures that I see on a regular basis so that you know what to keep an eye on, but I also want to give you 9 different communication tools that will set your relationship up for success!
Without further ado, let’s dive right in, shall we?
Communication tips for couples: being aware of common issues
For the last decade, I have dedicated my career to helping couples and individuals navigate the most complex challenges that arise in love so that their love lives can truly thrive.
It is my goal and mission to give you all the tips and tools you need to be able to coach yourself at home with these articles and all of the videos we create across our YouTube Channels. I know that we aren’t taught about these concepts in school, and every single person has a different example in their household as they are growing up!
Of course these things would be difficult in our adult lives.
Fortunately, there is a solution to every problem, and you are in the right place.
So, first and foremost, we need to get a 360 degree view of the situation and the best way to do that is to become aware of the most common problems. This way, you will learn to recognize them and subsequently diffuse them using the solutions I will provide to you in the second part of this article.
The first mistake that I see when it comes to couples and communication is that very often, people communicate in order to express themselves in order to be understood, but they do not seek to understand.
Perhaps this has happened to you? We get so caught up in trying to explain your feelings, your point of view, your needs, and your opinions that you wind up forgetting to take a moment to listen to your partner’s side.
In many cases, I see that people actually forget that there is a different side to the story, and the problem with this is that both partners need to feel heard if they are going to be able to operate as a team. To find solutions, it is so important to understand how your partner feels.
This is going to clarify why they do the things they do, why they may be frustrated with your actions, and what both of your needs are. Empathy is crucial. If you can’t put yourself in your significant other’s shoes, it will be hard for them to put themselves in your shoes, as well.
It’s a cyclical thing, and it is in your power to shift your approach so that the cycle breaks. By seeking to understand your partner, they will stop being defensive, and you will make much more progress.
The second roadblock to better communication between couples is when people incessantly bring up the past. If you keep bringing up past mistakes from months or years ago, you’re going to remain stuck in the past. You will be unable to move forward.
Similarly, the third issue I wanted to talk about is when a person fixates on their partner’s shortcomings and flaws. I cannot stress the importance of accepting that your significant other is not perfect – no one is.
Even just yesterday I was working with a client who was seeking communication advice for couples, and as we began to analyze her situation, we found that there was no positive reinforcement in her dynamic with her husband. She did not praise him, she was not appreciative, she wasn’t in a gratitude-mindset, and neither was he. This was just breeding a hostile environment and was pushing the two of them further and further apart.
It got to the point where they didn’t even want to share anything positive with each other because they didn’t feel there was a point to it. The exchanges they did have were either about the problems they were experiencing, or superficial things. As you can imagine, there wasn’t much joy in the relationship at all.
I told her that a very small thing that would make a very big difference would be to validate him. “Notice the efforts he makes, notice things that you admire about him, and remember the qualities that made you fall in love with him in the first place. When you see them, be sure to tell him about them and let him know that he is appreciated. In turn, he will start to warm back up to you and do the same for you.” Little shifts like this can actually go a really long way.
Another thing to keep in mind is the way that you talk to each other. A common mistake I see is when a person is upset about something, and the way that they approach the situation goes something like:
“You never make time for me.”
“You always have something more important to do.”
“You never factor this relationship into your plans.”
The simple act of using “You” as a bullet can make your partner feel hostile towards you. On the other hand, if you can approach your partner and present your point in a more loving way, without starting your sentence with “you always to do,” or, “You never do that,” you can simply say:
“I miss spending time with you. Remember how much fun we used to have? Why don’t we go try that new restaurant that just opened.”
Immediately, you switch from attack-mode to a productive solution.
It’s so important to learn from our mistakes and to learn destructive cycles and patterns. This is how you can create the type of relationship that you’ve always wanted to be in. It takes effort and it takes hard work. As you know, we are here to help you with this, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for one on one coaching. To work with me or a member of my team, all you have to do is click here. We can ask you targeted questions so that we can learn the specifics of your relationship. That way, we can design a custom action plan suited to your relationship’s specific needs.
Communication tools for couples to protect your relationship
Now we’ve arrived to the How To section of today’s article. I want to give you 9 different communication tools for couples that will help save and protect your marriage. So, the first one has to do with steering clear of being overly defensive and seeking to be right.
Effective communication tools: Tip #1
This goes hand in hand with what I was saying above. The most important thing to understand about communication is that it should not be used to win an argument or to come out on top; it should be used as a means for both people in the relationship to understand one another. It is crucial to remember that if your significant other is trying to communicate with you, it means that there is some sort of emotional need there. The same is true vice versa.
Good communication between couples: Tip #2
The next tip I have for you is all about avoiding playing the blame game. Don’t blame for your unhappiness or attack your partner when something is bothering you, or they will just put up walls. The moment your partner starts feeling defensive, they’re going to respond to you to try to prove that they are right. It’s going to be hard to resolve shared issues because they’ll feel like you think they’re responsible for everything. This just makes them put up more walls, and then you don’t make any progress. Instead, make sure that you take ownership of your own role in the issue at hand as well. This is going to show your partner that you’ve got a 360 degree view of the situation, and that you want to work as a team.
How couples can communicate better: Tip #3
The third tip is one of the most important ones: Empathy. This is an essential element of couples communication and any healthy relationship. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been dating for three weeks or if it’s been twenty-five years. If there is no empathy, your relationship cannot function properly. Now, there is a difference between sympathy and empathy. It’s not just about acknowledging what he or she is feeling or experiencing; it’s about really diving in and feeling it, too. This is how you will validate their feeling and let them feel heard. When they feel understood by you, it will be much easier for them to engage in a productive conversation. They won’t feel like they continuously have to explain themselves because you don’t get it. When a person feels seen, they have a much easier time expressing themselves.
Positive communication skills for couples: Tip #4
Following in line with this tip, my fourth one is actually a method that you can use to ensure that your partner knows you’ve understood them. It’s a technique called “mirroring” or “reflective listening,” and it essentially consists of you repeating what your partner said to you back to them so they see that you got it. So when your partner is giving you constructive criticism or is venting, your goal is to echo their message. Let’s say your partner has been expressing to you that they miss spending time with you and that they feel neglected, you can repeat it back to them and express that you understand that they feel neglected and that you two should be spending more time together. By doing so, you make sure that you understand, and you make sure that your partner feels heard. Use their own words to convey the message that they have just conveyed to you.
Better communication in marriage: Tip #5
Another tool that has proved to be very effective in good communication between couples is when you speak to your partner in terms of their own interests. It is very easy to inadvertently be self-centered in your communication habits, so I encourage you to really try to connect with your partner. When you are trying to communicate your needs to them, the recipe for success is marrying your wants and needs with their interests. This way, they can relate to the issue and you can pull in the same direction. you can develop healthier communication habits that are centered on both of your interests and needs.
Communication skills: Tip #6
Tip # 6 is about letting your partner talk. It’s all about hearing them out, so that you understand where they’re coming from and how you can present your wants and needs accordingly. The interesting thing about communication in relationships is that it’s easier for a person to accept something if they feel that the idea came from them. This isn’t a manipulation tactic; it’s simply a way to make sure that the two of you are in synch.
The more your partner is able to talk about themselves, the better they feel because, the more heard they feel. Plus, it gives you valuable information. People have an intrinsic nature to talk about themselves, and when you give someone the opportunity to talk about themselves, on a subconscious level, they will consider you a friend. It’s basic human nature. There is no better way to connect with a person than to let them talk about the things that they’re interested in. Not only does this create a deeper connection between the two of you, but it also helps to clarify how you can present your point to your partner in a way that will resonate.
How to improve communication in marriage: Tip #7
This one is a no-brainer. In order for communication to be healthy and solid, you both need to show respect towards one another. It’s important to respect your partner in the way that you speak to him or her, in the way that you look at them, the way that you value their time, and the way that you listen. A relationship cannot thrive unless both people feel respected. This is more of a common problem than you might even realize, and in order to maximize communication with your significant other, you have to make sure that you both feel respected by each other in your words and actions.
How to work on communication in marriage: Tip #8
My eighth tip for you is to admit when you are wrong. This is so very hard for so many people, but it’s critical. When one or both people in the relationship are unable to take accountability for their own mistakes, the relationship experiences a serious roadblock. If you can’t take accountability for your own shortcomings, how can you expect your partner to be accountable to you? How can you expect someone else to admit they’re wrong and be willing to change, if you don’t. It’s important to lead by example and to acknowledge what you could have done better along the way.
Relationship communication techniques: Tip #9
Last but not least, tip #9 is all about making your significant other feel important. That’s what communication is really about. It’s what all of this boils down to! We communicate so that we can share, validate each other, and show each other how we feel about each other and about the relationship. If a person does not feel important to you, it is going to be very challenging to establish and maintain healthy communication.
Even if you care for your partner and love them, if your actions are showing them otherwise, then they are not going to believe your words. So the key to making them feel important is to encourage them to share with you, and echo what they tell you. Once you learn what his or her needs are, implement them into our daily lives so that your partner sees that you listened and that you care. This will breed a really healthy foundation for communication in your relationship.
Implementing communication tools for couples in your daily life
When it comes to mastering the art of communication, it isn’t something that happens overnight. It is established through practice, and with time, it solidifies. Plus, the more you do it, the more natural it becomes. I know that it isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but if you can remember the 9 tips and tools I shared with you in this article, you will sense a sizable shift in your relationship.
To summarize for you:
1. Use communication as a means to understand; not to win.
2. Avoid the blame game at all costs
3. Always practice empathy
4. Practice reflective listening
5. Speak to your partner in terms of their own interests
6. Let your partner talk
7. Make sure that respect is always present
8. Be able to admit when you are wrong
9. Make your significant other feel important
The more you can do these things, the more you will lead by example, which in turn will inspire your partner to do the same. This is how you can really make communication thrive in your relationship.
I sincerely wish you all the very best in life and love!
Your coach when you want to know the best communication tools for couples