It takes two people to have a relationship. Understanding that each of you are different in your communication styles and your needs plays an important part in the way you communicate and connect. The challenge is finding a way to communicate effectively that is unique and workable in your relationship.
What are the three ‘not so obvious’ signs your relationship may be in trouble?
1/ Being defensive – you are finding you need to defend yourself and your position on things during conversations with your partner. For example, using ‘BUT’ to justify your behaviour or making excuses that redirect the problem back onto your partner.
2/ Contemptuous language when talking to your partner- this includes name calling, sarcastic responses and being generally disrespectful towards your partner. It can also include tapping into your partners weaknesses and consistently reminding them of these in a negative and blaming way just to prove your point.
3/ The silent treatment – avoiding conflict by shutting down your emotions or walking away, while still holding onto anger or other emotions. This behaviour does not support reconciliation, it only fuels further unhappiness and discontent.
The good news is researchers have found couples are able to change these behaviours and habits with support, guidance and lots of practice!
Healthy couples practice self-responsibility and empathy towards their partner. If you want to rid your relationship of these unhealthy habits here a few steps to get you started:
- Talk to SHARE rather than TELL – Change your dialogue from ‘telling’ your partner using tone, contempt, frustration or even anger, to sharing your ‘why ‘and the importance of meaning.
- Listen to learn – I understand breaking this habit can be very challenging, but if you really want to understand each other you both need to change your mindsets from trying to fix or being defensive, to being more curious and wanting to learn through empathy and understanding.
- Self-awareness and self-control – be aware of your current conflict communication style. If you are too upset during conflict to communicate clearly, be willing to communicate this with your partner and indicate you need some time to process and be willing to come back to the conversation after you have calmed down
- And finally…, Use the ‘I feel…When…Because’ concept – In any given moment tap into how you feel and use this phrase to express yourself openly and clearly.