As the honeymoon phase of your relationship slowly wears off, you may find yourself facing an unexpected problem: you and your partner seem to have drifted onto separate wavelengths, and simply being open with each other about your feelings is getting more and more impossible. From a heavy silence permeating every moment, to perpetual misunderstandings and outright arguments, a breakdown in communication feels like a breakdown of your relationship itself. We all know communication is key for any healthy relationship to function, so it’s no wonder that you’re probably experiencing a huge sense of dread at what this means for your future together! That’s why, if you want things to work out, you’re going to have to know how to fix a lack of communication in a relationship.
That’s precisely what today’s article is about: I want to put together some of the most tried-and-true methods that I’ve seen help countless couples suffering from a lack of communication in their relationships. It’s going to take effort, patience, and time, but learning how to communicate openly and honestly is one of the most powerful step leading to a long and happy future together. Let’s start by looking at how to form a gameplan in the first place, before moving onto some of the ways that you can fix this problem.
How to Fix a Lack of Communication in a Relationship: Understanding the Root of the Problem
In your relationship, it’s important to consider each other’s backgrounds and personalities when you’re making an action plan to solve this problem. Every person is unique, but identifying the reason why it’s hard for you two to communicate with each other is the first step towards learning how to do it properly. Some people have trouble voicing their needs and feelings because they’re insecure about expressing them, while others can’t communicate well because they never have before and don’t know how. Many people simply wall themselves off when they have feelings that overwhelm them. The thing is, every single cause of poor communication has a corresponding solution, so pinpointing it can save you a lot of time as you move forward. At this stage, all you have to do is ask yourself, what’s stopping me from communicating openly and honestly? What might be stopping my partner? Trying to think of the roots of poor communication on both sides will give you some idea of where to target your efforts.
Learning The Pillars of Good Communication
Many people believe that communication skills are something like a talent: some people are born with them, and others simply aren’t. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth: communication is a skill that each and every one of us has to develop and practice over time. Unfortunately, many people have grown up without anyone to teach them this skill! For those of us who had constantly fighting or divorced parents, it’s hard to know what healthy communication even looks like. It’s equally hard for people whose parents simply never opened up to each other, which may have kept the relationship in a kind of practical stasis but did nothing to teach us how to listen and be heard. The reality is that most of the people who have mastered this skill have done so simply by teaching themselves.
However, communication in a relationship is a two way street, so you may already be thinking about everything you’d wish your partner would do to help with this problem. You’re right in thinking that they also have to find the solution alongside you, but first you’re going to have to do everything to make sure your own communication skills are as strong as they possibly can be. By doing so, you’ll be leading by example, and it’s going to be a lot easier to tackle this issue alongside your partner in a productive way. If you can’t express your needs and feelings properly, it’s going to be impossible to even start undoing the damage that this communication breakdown is doing to your relationship.
Healthy Communication is “Me” and not “You”
Let’s start with one of the most effective and immediate ways of building up good communication in a relationship: avoid turning the word “you” into a weapon. Here’s what I mean: when you’re upset about something, it’s very easy to tell your partner what they are doing wrong. However, often that can make your partner defensive, because ultimately, you’re going on the attack! If you can approach things that bother you in a way that expresses the way you feel, you’re a lot more likely to engage your partner in helping find the solution. One thing that makes this even more effective is to focus on a positive perspective towards the problem that makes your partner feel valued and loved. For example, instead of saying “you never spend any time with me,” say “I miss spending time with you.” Your partner won’t go on the defensive, and instead, will be way more inclined to try finding solutions to the problem alongside you. This isn’t always easy, simply because you’re going to have to remember to do this precisely when you’re upset and not inclined to act sweet. But, trust me, it goes a long way towards improving the overall health of your relationship.
Improve Communication by Listening
When people start learning to communicate better, often they’ll make a really common mistake: they think that what they’re learning is all about the words that come out of their own mouths. The truth is that how you express yourself is only half of good communication skills. The other half is learning how to listen actively. This means fighting that urge we all have to calculate our responses real-time when we argue with someone, instead of just taking in what they’re saying. Asking follow-up questions, making an effort to understand, and making sure your partner is really getting their point across in a way you understand takes a lot of work. The reason why this is such a tricky still to master is that, very often, you’re doing it under the pressure of a disagreement! When you’re fighting to get your point across, it can be almost impossible to make room for your partner to do the same. However, learning how to listen can cool even the most heated arguments, and what’s more, it’s an expression of respect and validation that is vital for the foundations of your relationship. You might think of this the next time you argue, but the truth is that this tool is just as powerful when you’re speaking to each other about everyday things. Once you start making a concerted effort to listen all of the time, you’ll soon find that communicating with your partner feels easier and easier.
How to Point Out Communication Problems: Helping Your Partner
The hard truth is, as you put an effort into communicating in a healthier way with your partner, they might not keep up with you at first. This can lead to a big danger that I want to help you avoid: getting upset at them for not knowing how to communicate properly, especially once you start trying to talk about the breakdown in communication you two are experiencing. Awkward silence or poorly chosen words on their part can really make you feel awful, which is especially painful when you’ve been making an effort to open up and address the things that have been going wrong between you two lately. It’s really tempting to get defensive, point out their mistake, or to try to get across how bad it made you feel. However, here’s my advice: stop and ask yourself if you just witnessed any genuine attempt at communicating honestly with you. After all, that’s the broader goal, and if so then you have to reinforce that attempt – even if it’s tiny. Put your feelings aside for now and try to engage their intentions, not necessarily their wording or lack thereof, in order to keep the dialogue going. This way, you avoid putting your partner on the defensive and instead encourage them to be vulnerable in their own way. Ultimately, this is one of the first steps in helping your partner learn how to communicate better themselves.
Long-Term Communication in Relationships
Just like any other skill, communication isn’t something you learn once and can do perfectly forever. It takes constant practice to avoid getting rusty, and by doing so, you’ll also be ensuring that your relationship can handle all of the twists and turns on the road ahead. That’s why, as you try to tackle this problem, my advice is to think of this in the long-term and plan accordingly. It’s the little things you do day-by-day that will help you untangle this mess and create a healthy dynamic between you and your partner. There won’t be any one moment when the dam bursts and the dialogue between you two suddenly starts to flow; instead one day you’ll simply look around you and realize that things are working exactly the way they should. Remember, plenty of people have had this problem, and there are plenty of solutions to it. It’s common enough that we even have an entire course dedicated to precisely this! Feel free to check out our course in communication for more tips.
With that being said, here are my tips to fix a lack of communication in a relationship:
- Healthy Communication is “Me” and not “You”. Remember to notice when you’re putting your partner on the defensive, and make an effort to draw them in instead of pushing them away.
- Improve communication by listening. Knowing how to listen actively is the bedrock of a healthy relationship, and will go a long way in encouraging your partner to start their own process of opening up.
- Know how to point out communication problems without getting angry. As you try to solve this problem, you’re going to have to traverse some rocky terrain. Reading your partner’s intentions, instead of their words, can help stop you from getting derailed by unnecessary arguments.
Of course, every relationship is unique, so if you feel that there are specific obstacles you don’t know how to overcome in your relationship, feel free to reach out to me or any of the other love and relationship coaches here at Happily Committed by clicking here. We can take a look at your situation and provide you with a more personalized action plan.
Most importantly, remember that this is going to take time and effort! Don’t be discouraged if it’s hard at first – most things worth doing always are.
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