Communication Problems? – Do This Instead!
Communication is hard
Communication is one of those things that is easier said than done, literally. Most people enter relationships thinking they will be fully open and positive, able to calmly talk it all out, but then find that they are unable to follow through.
Despite there being so much on how to improve communication, it is still a problem for so many couples. So why is communication so hard? We are focusing too much on the goal of “communicating well”. What we think of as good communication is really just an abstract idea. Rather than getting stuck on what to say, instead, work to change how you approach your partner, and relationship altogether.
Change your mindset
The way we think about our relationship and our partner is important. Our thoughts and approach hold a lot of weight. As our relationship develops, we establish beliefs about ourselves, our partner, and the relationship as a whole. In turn, these beliefs we hold affect the way we act inside the relationship. It determines how motivated we feel, our level of vulnerability, and how flexible we’re willing to be within the relationship. The following will help you change the way you’re thinking about it and that has the ability to change your relationship.
3 mindset shifts:
1. It’s not about the dishes
Do you seem to be fighting over silly, simple things like doing the dishes, loading the dishwasher, or walking the dog? If your partner doesn’t do the dishes and you’re upset, it’s important to look at the true reason why and express that to them.
If you’re feeling enraged over dishes, it’s not because you care so much about the dishes. There is a much bigger issue at play – how much you matter to each other. Maybe you’re feeling ignored because you had asked your partner to help. Maybe you’re feeling as if your partner doesn’t prioritize you when they don’t do the dishes because actions like that tell you that they care. Tell your partner about these feelings instead of assuming these feelings to be the truth.
So the next time your partner is upset with you for not taking out the trash, stop to think about what it is they are feeling because of that. And when your partner does take out the trash, tell them how that makes you feel cared for. Focus less on the minutiae and more on the underlying feelings.
2. It’s not about who’s right
When you go back and forth debating who was “right”, you miss the more important point, which is the emotional needs of each person. Getting caught in a cyclical fight about who’s to blame doesn’t get you anywhere. Instead, take a moment to put yourself in your partner’s shoes. What does it feel like? Even if you don’t agree, can you still see why their feelings exist?
Seeing the other person’s side requires maturity and self-awareness. It also means you have to give up being “right”. Stop trying to be “right”, and instead aim to be understood by your partner. There are no winners in an argument like this, but if you work to understand each other you can come out on the same team.
3. It’s not about the many arguments
If you’re arguing a lot, there is most likely one (or more) pattern that’s being repeated. The pattern is the problem, as well as the solution. It may seem like a new fight all the time, a different topic, but really you’re listening to the same song, just a different version. You can get stuck when there are certain feelings you’re seeking but remain unsatisfied.
Many couples struggle with the pursuer-distancer dynamic. This is when one person continually pursues, wanting more intimacy, quality time, communication, or sex and the other person resists and distances themselves. This is an all too common dance where the closer one gets, the further the other goes. Recognize patterns like this. Look for the common denominator.
Take the four relationship desires quiz to discover what your style is. Your relationship style can uncover what your needs and feelings are. Finding out your partner’s style will clue you in on how to understand their feelings better.
It’s about the feelings
So, while the structure of communication is important it’s more about what’s underneath: what’s hiding underneath the words, even if you think you’re saying the “right words”. Practicing new mindsets about your partner and your relationship makes communication easier and it makes the tough times not as tough.