People communicate not only because we need to but also because interacting with others makes us feel good. We want our interactions to be positive so we need to make sure that the other person understands us and vice versa. In other words, we must make sure that our communication is effective.
Effective communication is crucial for many areas of our lives. A lack of communication can negatively impact one’s professional and personal life because proper communication is absolutely necessary for all kinds of relationships.
When it comes to romantic relationships, communication is particularly important. Its importance, however, doesn’t make it easier for partners to understand what their communication should look like. Is it healthy? Should they talk to each other more often? How can they better understand each other?
Many people experience problems with communication, especially when a subject matter is sensitive or if a person hasn’t had a lot of positive experience discussing personal things with others. Conversations can make us feel vulnerable, but it’s important to keep in mind that they can also empower and heal.
For instance, the power of communication becomes obvious in talk therapy, which helps treat many mental health problems. By talking to a therapist, you can learn more about yourself and better understand the connection between your thoughts and actions. You may also consider therapy if you experience problems with communication per se.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the role of communication in a relationship and share some tips that will help you improve it, making your relationship stronger and better understanding your partner.
Why Communication Is Important
People are a social species so we want to feel connected to each other. Psychologists have been studying human communication for many years, and research data proves that positive social interactions can increase our overall well-being, making us feel more satisfied with our lives.
Different kinds of relationships, including romantic relationships, are important for us because building meaningful connections with others creates positive emotions, which are crucial for the feeling of happiness.
People can establish connections in different ways, and our interactions are not always verbal. Our smiles, tone of voice, and gestures can tell a lot. However, we still need to make sure that our verbal communication is effective and, even more importantly, healthy.
When couples go to therapy, they often realize that most problems stem from communication. It may feel like you and your partner are speaking different languages, and this might be true. For instance, psychologists distinguish five love languages, and partners often express their feelings completely differently.
While some people may need physical expressions of affection, other people may look for meaningful conversations or quality time. Similarly, we may express our concerns in different ways. The first step toward understanding each other is to make sure that the two partners communicate in a healthy way.
Communication, in general, consists of messages. A message sent by a sender is interpreted by a receiver, and the success of communication directly depends on the success of such interpretation.
The sender encodes the message. This means that one can communicate a certain message in different ways by using different verbal and non-verbal tools. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that the other person can decode this message, delivering it in the right way.
When partners constantly tell each other things like “you don’t hear me” or “you don’t understand me,” this is one of the most common signs of bad communication in a relationship.
The way we interpret messages is completely individual. Everyone has their own explanatory styles and filters that determine the way we see the world. The difficulty of communication, however, is a result of not only the recipient’s subjectivity but also that of the message.
Common Communication Problems
A lack of communication in a relationship can have a severe impact on its quality. Partners should understand each other’s needs, desires, boundaries, etc. Otherwise, building a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship may turn out to be an impossible task.
Therefore, it’s important to recognize poor communication and react to unhealthy tendencies on time. Here are the most common problems that impact communication in relationships.
When a person avoids a direct conflict, they may express aggression in a passive way by making critical remarks, cracking jokes, or pointing out details that they know will make their partner feel uncomfortable.
Although passive aggression may look like an alternative to conflicts, the truth is that it hurts one of the partners without letting the other partner address their actual concerns. Besides, it leads to defensive responses, being able to damage communication in many ways.
By ignoring relationship issues that bother us, we create a lot of space for these issues to develop and become even more serious over time. It’s important to keep in mind that conflicts are an integral part of any relationship, so it makes sense to express our concerns in a constructive way instead of avoiding them altogether.
When we are frustrated, our emotions may damage the effectiveness of communication. To achieve mutual understanding, it’s important to avoid aggressive speech. Don’t blame your partner and don’t raise your voice. Aggression won’t make your partner listen to you but will only make them act defensively.
How to Fix Communication in a Relationship
Improving communication is a crucial part of many strategies for dealing with relationship crises and one of the main goals of relationship therapy. Here are some of the easiest and effective ways to improve communication in a relationship.
Process your feelings
We’ve already mentioned the destructive impact of aggression and frustration on communication. Therefore, a great solution is to take your time and process your emotions before talking to your partner so that you can avoid arguing.
Think of what you’re going to say and figure out how you can say it so that your partner will understand you. Think of the possible solutions so that you can not only point out the problem but also suggest possible ways of dealing with it.
Acknowledge your feelings but make sure that they won’t impact the clarity of your message. If you experience frustration or anger, take your time to calm down so that your conversation with your partner won’t turn into a heated argument.
Stick with “I” statements
The way you speak to your partner can make or break your communication. To avoid blaming your partner and focus on the problem itself, stick with “I” statements.
For example, instead of saying “you don’t care about me,” you can say “I feel bad when you do this.” Instead of saying “you’re wrong,” you can say “I disagree with you,” etc. This way, you’ll prevent the escalation of conflict and make it less personal.
Choose the right moment
Don’t underestimate the importance of timing. Don’t ambush your partner with your concerns but let them prepare for a serious conversation so that it won’t turn into a heated debate. Let them know that you want to talk and decide on the time that will be comfortable for both of you.
Focus on finding a resolution
No matter whether you’re discussing your feelings or future plans, the main goal of your conversation with your partner should be finding a resolution. Quite often, finding it involves searching for a compromise that both parties can accept.
The first step towards better communication between partners is acknowledging the existing problems. The second step is fixing these problems, and this can be a very difficult task if you don’t understand what has caused them.
For instance, if one or both of the partners demonstrate aggressive or defensive behavior, it’s important to understand where these problems come from so that partners can prevent them in the future. That’s where therapy can help so you definitely should consider it.
A lack of communication in a relationship is a very common issue that can have a significant negative impact on people’s relationships. Even though it can be difficult for couples to work on their communication, therapy can make a big difference. If you want to improve your communication with your loved one, talking to a licensed therapist is a great solution.
A therapist can help you figure out the roots of your communication problems and suggest some effective solutions. For instance, you may learn how to use words of affirmation in a relationship or how to communicate your boundaries.
A great thing about therapy is that thanks to modern technology, you don’t even need to drive to a therapist’s office to get the necessary help. Online therapy platforms like Calmerry allow you to benefit from remote sessions through video calls or text messages. Learn more about therapy to prepare for your first conversation.