5 Steps to Overcoming Relationship Communication Barriers

Couples inevitably encounter communication hiccups along the way, whether they’re newly dating or celebrating decades together.  These missteps are difficult to maneuver and require conscious efforts from both partners.  Remembering the following tips will prove helpful in those eventual disagreements:

1. Avoid the silent treatment: Women and men both are guilty of this tactic, and it’s incredibly dangerous and destructive.  Shutting down is essentially shutting your partner out, and that’s not beneficial to addressing the real issues at hand.  As hard as it may seem, use your words to show your feelings, and don’t be afraid to get specific.  Remember, the right person is going to work with you on relationship troubles, not use your feelings as ammunition against you.

2. Don’t make assumptions: Similar to the silent treatment, assumptions are another example of leaving your partner’s opinion out, and it’s simply not fair to either person.  You may assume that his short responses mean he’s lost interest, but he may just have a lot going on at work.  If you don’t ask and rely instead on your imagination, you don’t gain the truth, and you quite possibly set yourself up for a larger argument in the end.

3. Compliment good behaviors: If you feel like your partner isn’t showing you as much affection as before, try bringing it up in a complimentary way through suggestion.  “I really love your hugs,” and, “I miss your early morning text messages,” are both non-threatening examples of encouraging the actions you desire.  This way, you get your point across with any accusatory language.

4. Own your feelings: Men and women are both emotional, but they tend to show those emotions in completely different ways.  A woman may cry, and a man may fume.  Both are valid emotional responses, and both belong to the person who feels them.  Rather than telling your partner, “you made you feel stupid,” which is an accusatory statement, explain your feelings in a possessive tone, and provide an explanation.

For example, “I felt stupid when you made the dumb blonde joke” is less argumentative than, “you always make me feel stupid.”  The first statement also gives your partner a chance to explain himself and lets him know the real source of the issue.

5. Stay positive: This is a toughie, I know!  It’s so easy to get angry or say things you don’t mean.  Do your best to stay positive and work toward resolving the issue healthily.  Sure, things are going to blow up sometimes.  That’s a normal part of two people sharing their lives together.  Just remember to stay mindful of the reasons you’re together in the first place, and put the focus on maintaining that bond.

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