Couples Communication Skills

One of the most important foundations for a healthy relationship is communication.  It can also be one of the hardest parts about being in one!   You might think there are only a few ways to communicate as a couple; however, there are a wide variety of mistakes a couple can make.

Couples with communication issues tend to have higher conflict in their relationship.  Some couples even avoid serious topics altogether for fear of conflict or arguments.  Argumentative behavior comes in the form of raising your voice or insulting one another, both of which are detrimental and signs of a high conflict relationship.  These types of relationships focus more on who is correct rather than coming together as a team to find a productive solution.

Avoidance is another area that can be just as damaging.  If a couple continually avoids any difficult topics, it can cause them to drift away from one another physically and emotionally.

People are often influenced on how to communicate through what they have seen or experienced in their lives.  This type of observational learning includes what they saw growing up through their parents, friends and culture.  We tend to think that our partner has grown up experiencing the same things we have, but we should realize everyone has gone through life differently; some people might grow up in a loud family, a silent family, or a sarcastic family, etc.

One of the most common mistakes in a relationship is making assumptions about your partner.  It’s easy to assume things about someone you have known for many years.  If you are unsure what your partner means during a disagreement, simply ask them to clarify their statement(s).

Another mistake is trying to communicate when you or your partner are not fully attentive.  A serious discussion requires the full attention of both parties.  For example, do not try to discuss an important topic with your significant other when they might be working on something for school or their job. It’s also important to put away distractions such as cell phones, computers and the t.v. when having these discussions.

It’s also very easy to overgeneralize things when you are talking about something, such as using the words “always” or “never”.  Carefully think about using these words.  Normally, it is incorrect to assume your partner is doing something all of the time or none of the time.   This also pushes your partner into a corner where they feel the need to defend themselves and doesn’t give them an opportunity to be praised for the times they did act in a more helpful way.

Lastly, one of the most common mistakes in communication is being overly critical.  Criticism can be constructive at times, but there is a fine line.  Criticism will not be constructive if expressed the wrong way or with the wrong approach.  Constructive criticism can be important, but also remember to communicate things you appreciate and love about them your partner just as much or more that criticizing the things you don’t like.

If you’re having trouble speaking about difficult subjects with your partner, do not be afraid to seek professional help. A counselor can help mediate the conversation and help you and your partner develop a more loving and meaningful pattern of communication.