Five mistakes many couples make
No matter how in tune you are with your partner, misunderstandings and communication gaffes are always possible.
Some types of communication are more obvious signs your relationship might be doomed: extreme criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling.
Today let’s talk about the more subtle ways we might not be communicating as well as we could with our partners and how to avoid them.
Assuming that more communication is the solution
You’ve probably heard before that good communication is the cornerstone of a happy relationship, and, while that might be true, communication alone won’t necessarily create that happiness.
Sometimes, too much talking could do the reverse. It helps to understand your partner’s primary communication style. As I mentioned in a previous marriage post, one psychology theory is people have different “love languages”.
You could be the type for whom actions speak louder than words; if your partner showers you with compliments but never helps with the household chores, that’s a big disconnect.
If you and your partner find yourselves always talking things out but still never getting over relationship hurdles, maybe concentrate on other, non-verbal ways to connect.
Of course, talking often is productive and necessary, but you have to make sure you’re speaking on the same wavelength and, if arguing, doing it productively.
Expecting your partner to read your mind
Remember that time your significant other was supposed to do something you wanted but later you found out he or she had no clue? Try as we might, humans aren’t great at reading each other’s minds.
You can’t assume that your spouse knows how you feel or what you want.
You don’t share the same feelings, worldview or thoughts. You might notice the dishes in the sink or remember that the children haven’t done their homework yet, but he might not. When in doubt, say it out loud.
Giving in and not saying what you want or think
If one or both people are averse to conflict, chances are emotions will be buried in the name of pleasing the other person.
As someone who’s the epitome of conflict avoidance, I can assure you that while that keeps the peace for the short-term, it’ll only gradually erode your own happiness and, in turn, the relationship.
Power to Change writes: Some people describe the ideal marriage as a two-way street. If you don’t have any arguments, or one side is always directing the traffic, you are riding on a one-way street without any communication. That’s not something to cheer about.
Harping on (possibly hopeless) issues
The opposite is true as well for couples where both people are stubborn and refuse to compromise.
In that case, it’s more like a one-lane street with two cars playing chicken with each other.
One example of this is the ‘Woodpecker Syndrome’: one person fixates on their feelings and keeps going on and on about it while the other partner withdraws defensively:
This is a communication pattern of ever-diminishing returns. Soon just the mentioning of “let’s talk” makes one want to run or hide. If you’re the woodpecker, stop talking. Rest, regroup, and try a different approach.
Not considering things from the other person’s point of view
Sometimes it is just a matter of being clearer, more upfront, or knowing the best way to communicate with your partner that’s at the core of better communication.
Equally important, though, is making the effort to understand things from your partner’s perspective—something we might not always remember to do.
Empathy is the most important skill you can practice, personally and professionally.
You don’t always have to agree with the other person, but at least you’ll both be on the same relationship page.