Regularly talking to each other, exchanging ideas, and communicating openly are essential for a successful relationship. However, how much communication is necessary, and are there things that should be kept secret? We provide helpful tips for successful communication in a relationship and reveal potential communication pitfalls.
How can this keep happening? Why does my partner constantly misunderstand me? Sometimes in a relationship, it feels like both partners are speaking different languages. Agreements are forgotten and needs go unheard. This often leads to arguments, which is why our tips are crucial for fostering successful communication in the future.
Why is communication important in a relationship?
Although you may have read in every relationship guide or heard from every relationship expert that open communication is one of the pillars of a relationship, its significance is still underestimated. But why is good communication essential in a relationship?
1. You learn about your partner’s common interests, needs, and preferences.
2. You understand your partner’s expectations for life and envision a future together.
3. You gain insight into your partner’s thoughts and feelings.
4. Disputes can be resolved more quickly through dialog.
5. Clear agreements can be made, and misunderstandings can be avoided.
5 communication patterns that harm relationships
Psychologist Gottman, with over 30 years of experience working with couples and analyzing their communication, has identified 5 common communication patterns that eventually damage relationships.
- Constant Criticism – Continuous blame and criticism are often unfair and disproportionate. It forces the partner to become defensive. Criticisms that include words like “always,” “never,” “everything,” or “typical” are demeaning and should be avoided in a relationship whenever possible.
- Defense and Justification – When a partner immediately tries to defend themselves and evade any criticism, conflicts usually escalate. While constant criticism is inappropriate, self-reflection and insight are equally important. The constant cycle of accusation and defense often leads to a negative spiral.
- Withdrawal – Conflict avoidance should be minimized. If a partner feels treated unfairly or if conflict resolution fails, withdrawal often follows. Instead of addressing the issues, people retreat, leaving conflicts unresolved.
- Contempt – Condescending and disrespectful remarks have no place in a relationship! Even subtle signs of lack of appreciation, such as rolling eyes in annoyance, can be detrimental. Mockery, spite, or attacking intimate aspects can destroy the entire relationship. The resulting pain often runs deep, leading to the loss of intimacy and trust.
- Power Games – Always striving to have the upper hand means highlighting only the negative traits of the other person to make oneself look better in conflicts. However, disputes should never solely revolve around who is right or who wins the argument; they should focus on finding a common solution.
6 tips for effective communication in a relationship
If you identify with any of the patterns mentioned earlier, you can use our tips to enhance communication with your partner. Often, it’s the small things that can make a significant difference.
- Use First-Person Formulations – In arguments, it’s common to emphasize the other person’s mistakes by repeatedly saying “you. However, for successful communication, it’s important to express your feelings and needs. For example, say, “It hurt me that. . or “I’m struggling with it because. . or “I would like it if. . . Expressing your own needs and desires is more helpful than solely focusing on the other person’s mistakes.
- Leave the Past in the Past – Bringing up past issues and mistakes during conflicts is unproductive when trying to find a solution. To truly resolve conflicts, it’s crucial to forgive and forget past mistakes, ensuring they don’t play a role in future conflicts. Mutual scorekeeping doesn’t benefit anyone.
- Practice Attention and Listening – Sometimes, offering a listening ear without providing detailed answers, advice, or your own opinions can be valuable. Simply being present and attentive to your partner’s concerns, worries, and thoughts can make a significant difference. Above all, avoid contradicting your partner when they express their worries.
- Foster Positive Communication – Don’t wait for conflicts to arise before engaging in conversation. Appreciation, praise, and recognition can be soothing for the soul and beneficial for both partners. A small message of love can brighten your partner’s day, making it easier to discuss serious issues later on.
- Maintain Objectivity – While it’s natural to feel angry or enraged at times, it’s advisable to communicate as calmly and rationally as possible. Yelling loudly or having emotional outbursts of anger may be understandable, but they don’t help resolve conflicts. If you notice that you’re particularly upset, take a short break. A brief walk or a quick workout can help calm your emotions.
- Don’t Take Out Stress on Others – After a long, stressful day at work, it’s common for patience to wear thin. Even simple