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One of the most common factors contributing to relationship breakdown is a lack of communication. It can happen over a period of time, and so slowly we fail to recognise the signs. It may be you don’t want to express your thoughts and feelings to your partner for fear of embarrassment, or concerns you may seem weak. It can occur when one of you feels overly defensive, and a simple discussion can turn into an argument. It can even result from lack of time together due to busy schedules. While incidences, where you feel the lines of communication between you and your partner have become blocked, are occasional, over time they build up and can easily become a big issue. Fortunately, it is possible to open these lines of communication. Let’s discuss a few methods by which we can achieve this.
1. Avoid alcohol while having deep discussions with your partner.
When we are inebriated, our emotions become heightened and we often have trouble regulating those feelings. We often speak without thinking or considering how those words may affect others around us. A discussion can very easily deteriorate into an argument. By avoiding alcohol, we are able to regulate our emotions and consider our words carefully.
2. Don’t turn a discussion into a personal attack.
When having a deep or particularly emotional conversation with a partner, it is very easy to turn our words into an emotional attack. Before getting involved in one of these discussions, it is important to remember we are discussing a situation, and not necessarily the person in front of you. Try to stay on the topic, and talk about these situations without accusations or name-calling.
3. Say ‘I feel’.
We are not mind-readers, and neither are our partners. We often have very little idea about another person’s feelings unless they tell us. So be open, and tell your partner how you feel. Further to this, use ‘I feel’ when you need to discuss your partner’s behaviour. There is no point throwing accusations at them, but calmly explaining how their behaviour made you feel will allow them to further understand the impact of their actions. Using statements starting with ‘I feel’ softens the blows, removes a lot of the blame and allows you to sound more approachable.
4. It is important to remember that we react to our perceptions of a situation.
Sometimes we misunderstand what happened, or fail to appreciate another’s point of view. Be receptive to your partner’s feelings and allow them to explain their understanding. Again, use ‘I feel’, and avoid turning the discussion into a personal attack on your partner.
5. Make sure you are listening to what your partner has to say.
Demonstrate that you are hearing them and processing their words by maintaining eye contact, providing them with your attention and repeating back to them when they said to clarify your understanding. This may look something like ‘So what you’re saying to me is…’. You’ll find it far easier to communicate if both of you can respect each other by hearing what the other has to say.
6. Communication takes practice. It can be difficult to break the habit of turning a discussion into an argument.
If you feel your discussion is turning into an argument, or that accusations are surfacing, or you feel uncomfortable, it may be time to end the discussion. Again, be respectful, use ‘I feel’ and try to end on a positive note. Try to stick to safe topics until both you and your partner are ready to try again.
If you and your partner are having communication issues make the time and come see one of our counsellors. Click on the meet our team/make an appointment tabs to find out more.