7 Common Communication Mistakes and How Couples Can Avoid Them
Whether we are talking about your boss or your best friend, communication is crucial in all types of relationships. In a romantic context, lack of communication is a common cause of relationship breakdowns.
In any relationship, it is important to be able to express your feelings, thoughts, opinions, and expectations. Nonetheless, many people find themselves holding back, perhaps due to a fear of rejection, or because they are worried what they have to say might antagonize or upset their partner, pushing them away.
Effective communication within a relationship prevents scope for misunderstandings, enabling both sides to set clear expectations. In this article, we look at common communication blunders and what couples can do to avoid them.
This problem can go both ways. You might think you know what your partner is thinking without them articulating it. Equally, you may expect them to know what you are thinking without you telling them. Romantic relationships confer a feeling of connectedness and unity, but the other person cannot actually read your mind. You may believe you know your partner better than they know themselves, but this is rarely true.
Many relationship problems arise from one or both partners failing to communicate their thoughts and feelings, particularly when this is followed up with resentfulness for the other party’s failure to guess what was wrong. Rather than getting upset, it is usually much more productive to sit down and talk about the issue with your partner.
If you fall into the trap of attacking your partner as a person rather than disapproving of their actions, this creates scope for even more conflict. When people feel attacked, they go on the defensive, and may even launch their own counterattack, escalating animosity still further.
It is far better to address the actions that bother you in a proactive way rather than dishing out a personal critique on your partner. For example, instead of complaining “you never take the trash out,” a better approach would be “take the trash out, please.”
When someone is clearly not listening to what you have to say, it can be incredibly frustrating. When discussing an issue, both partners will have points they want to get across. However, while the other person is speaking, rather than merely waiting for your next opportunity to talk or planning what you’re going to say, you should actively listen, paying attention to your partner’s whole statement.
In an enduring relationship, there are bound to be the odd moments where one or both partners become frustrated. But if every confrontation turns into a screaming match, this habit is going to destroy your relationship from the inside out.
David Bennett is a relationship expert and certified counselor. He points out that while everyone of his clients thought that screaming was an effective method of communication, none of them had ever changed their behavior as a result of being screamed at. Bennett explains that screaming and shouting do not work. They merely incite an even stronger emotional reaction from both parties, escalating the argument.
5. Giving the Cold Shoulder
There should be no room for playground behavior in adult relationships. After all, the silent treatment is a mode of punishment most of us dished out in grade school. Grown-ups should not treat one another that way regardless of the circumstances.
Nevertheless, many people resort to this tactic, whether to escape an uncomfortable conversation, or to manipulate their partner or make them uncomfortable. As David Bennett points out, to withdraw from discussions and simply stop engaging with your partner has a damaging impact on your relationship.
6. Holding onto Resentment
According to a study involving 335 couples that was conducted over 16 years of marriage, men are more likely to be resentful than women. However, divorce is more common when it is the woman that is discontented.
Feelings of resentment and bitterness often turn into contempt, causing one partner to start looking at the other unfavorably for who they are, rather than what they do. To avoid breeding contempt, you should communicate your needs and complaints without slipping into the habit of “building a case” against your partner. You should also take the time to say thank you when it is warranted, showing them gratitude.
7. Being Selfish
A romantic relationship is not made up of two halves, but two people with their own unique identities, interests, likes, and dislikes. Even in a marriage that endures for 50 years, each partner is a unique individual. However, at the same time, too much separation can cause issues.
When one partner starts making choices without factoring in the other person, this can leave their partner feeling taken for granted. In relationships, interdependence is a healthy compromise. According to review of 30 studies, the happiest, most functional couples thought in terms of “we” rather than “me,” facing challenges together, rather than finding themselves on opposite sides.
Originally published at https://carltonjames.org on April 6, 2022.