Communication problems in relationships are a common issue and barrier, so how can we overcome this? Communication is a process where a message is sent, received, and returned. It seems simple, but it is not, and even less so when it comes to communication within couples. If you say black and your partner hears white, arguments increase and it seems you are both understanding and speaking different languages. It is time to think about how you are communicating. It would be important to question the message and how we are communicating it.
There is a phrase that sums this up beautifully:
“Between what I think, what I mean, what I think I say, what I say, what you want to hear, what you hear, what you think you understand, what you understand, there are nine possibilities of not understanding each other.“
It is not easy to express our needs from a clear and quiet place. If we add to this the needs and difficulties of the other, it is likely to lead to communication problems in relationships.
Addressing communication problems in relationships
Communication seeks to unite, to connect, but our way of expressing ourselves can generate disconnection. Speaking from a critical standpoint separates us: we all have things that we may like more or less about our partner, but using misplaced negative words in a conversation can lead to communication problems in relationships. Using phrases such as “We had agreed on when to clean the kitchen” is a non-aggressive phrase, contrary to the destructive criticism of the type “You are selfish, you never keep the promises we make”. Be assured that if you start the conversation with such a phrase, you are entering dangerous territory.
On the other hand, using criticism constantly takes us into the realm of contempt. Communicating is not only about talking but also about listening to each other. Taking into account their opinions, ideas, and feelings. We’ve outlined 6 points to take into account to avoid communication problems in relationships.
If you are having difficulty agreeing and your partner suggests a possible solution, listen to them. Avoid phrases like “Does that seem to you like it will solve this? I didn’t know you were a magician”. With that kind of disqualifying communication, it is not possible to get close to the other. What you are doing at this point is aggressively pointing out what you don’t like about your partner and throwing away everything they are trying to do to improve.
2. Don’t assume things
Another point to consider is when you assume that your partner already knows what you want or need. We are a society that is constantly advancing but we can’t read minds yet, so saying what you want is the best way to get on track and avoid communication problems in relationships.
3. Break down barriers
The next step on this slope of miscommunication is to maintain a defensive attitude. It makes sense to think that, in the face of criticism and contempt, one of the partners will pull out their armor and defend themselves. However, if we want to connect with each other, creating barriers does not help. From a defensive position, we can turn things around and start “attacking ourselves”, which will only add fuel to the fire.
4. Me and you VS the problem
Undoubtedly, focusing the dispute as me against you or you against me is not going to have a good outcome. Arguments arise because of a problem in managing something in particular. Let’s think about how to solve that something and not see which one of us wins this argument. You and me against the problem, not you and me against each other.
5. Face it, don’t ignore it
In the face of these difficulties, taking a step back and pretending the problem doesn’t exist may seem tempting, but then it ends up being a path from which it may be difficult to return. When one person tries to communicate and resorts to criticism or contempt, their partner might avoid responding by avoiding a confrontation, but let’s keep in mind that not saying anything is in itself a message. It conveys the idea that it is not important what the other person says and, ultimately, that you have given up.
6. Empathy is key
Finally, we cannot talk about communication without talking about empathy. Not in the conventional conception of “I understand what you feel” since that is not empathy, but going a step further. Empathy does not necessarily imply that we go through the same circumstances to understand each other, but that we can take into account the other’s perspective and recognize it as their truth, without judging it and reading their emotions in order to respond accordingly.
Understanding each other
Opening up to understand how the other might feel requires you to connect with yourself and with the feelings you locate within you. Communication problems in relationships come if you don’t listen to the other person with respect.
As Shakira says in her song Inevitable, “I’ve always known that it’s best when you talk about two, starting with yourself”. Meaning, when you speak, speak for yourself. If you speak about how you feel, you also allow the other to speak from their place and perception. Who knows, you may be surprised by the way the other one was seeing things. We know how we feel, but perhaps we don’t quite know what the other person feels and thinks, so let them tell us and connect with that feeling.
Every couple is different, so what we have discussed here are some general points to think about if communication with your partner is not how it should be. Take a moment and ask yourself: what do I really want to say to my partner, how have I been saying it, are there better ways to say this, am I listening? When reflecting upon it, maybe you will reach an agreement and improve your communication.
Being in a couple does not provide happiness, but there are a series of ingredients that make us feel happy as a couple. One of them is communication. Let’s watch our words, their consequences, and their effects…
How to overcome communication problems in relationships with ifeel
Tackling communication problems in relationships by yourself is not easy, and if this issue is making you feel trapped, do not hesitate to get in touch with a professional. To facilitate the process, ifeel offers online therapy with a team of leading psychologists who can help you battle issues related to couples with personalized and ongoing therapy. Get in touch with us or visit our website for more information.