Runners were responsible for carrying messages between fronts during the war. Since you and your partner are on the same team, I thought this was a good analogy. What you are really running between is two different ideas or two different ways of seeing things.
You don’t like to fight with your partner. Ultimately, you desire to work together and solve the conflict. In my work as a couple’s therapist and couples relationship coach, I see why many of my clients avoid talking to their significant other. They avoid communicating.
Many partners have found that their conversations quickly deteriorate and this makes them feel as if they are in combat with each other.
Each time you try to bring up something or start a discussion, it’s the same thing. You think you have found the best way to frame it and you are hoping to duck a bullet. You have high hopes. But by the third sentence, you can see by the look on your spouse’s face – that it’s gone south again. And you’re wondering what happened.
Here are the three common mistakes that can ruin effective communicating:
Mistake #1: You realize you have something to convey, but you don’t bring it up. You can’t communicate anything if you don’t open your mouth and say it. Some partners are afraid that their message will start a fight and that may have some truth to it. Partners who don’t know how to effectively negotiate often turn hostile or shut down. The same can be said for partners who are feeling afraid of speaking their mind in case it starts an argument with their significant other. Tension is a guarantee in every relationship. Healthy marriages are able to find ways to navigate the encounter. The only way to keep communication alive in a relationship is to keep trying and be truthful with your partner. Nothing good ever comes of hiding the way you feel.
Mistake #2: You express your point with judgement, criticism, or blame. No one wants to hear how they did something wrong or why it is their fault. Communication that is peppered with judgments and criticism tends to put people on the defensive. Even if you want to talk about something that you are critical of, your message is more likely to be received if it’s about you, the speaker, and not the other. For example, instead of saying, “You are always out running and never home” you might express the thoughts and feelings about the matter instead. You might say, “I feel really lonely and I don’t like being home alone so much.” The second message is more likely to turn into a healthy conversation- Albeit possibly a tough one. Instead of criticizing your partner, tell them how their actions make you feel.
Mistake #3: Bringing up your conversation at the wrong time. You wait until you are in a conflict to bring up an issue or you bring it up without checking for your partner’s readiness. Successful communication involves both a sender and a receiver. First, you need to check that you are expressing your thoughts in a manner that it can be well-received. If you are angry, it might be easier for you to say it, but the chances of it being heard are minimal. Instead, you will have better luck waiting for a moment when you are both calm and ask your partner if it’s a good time to talk about the issue.
The bottom line: I know you want to be able to communicate with your partner, but don’t let your desire to start the discussion lead to the above mistakes. Wanting to communicate is a great start!
Do you want to learn how to improve your relationship now? Learn more about marriage and couples relationship coaching.