Communication can be one of the most effective ways to create and keep a strong, healthy relationship. Talking is important in keeping us aware of our partners’ needs, discussing life changes, working out problems, and negotiating and settling disagreements. If done the right way, communication is healthy and beneficial to the relationship; however, there are times when it can become harmful. Negative communication not only makes a relationship difficult, but also can be the catalyst to the end of a partnership. This is one of the top reasons marriages deteriorate and couples seek counseling. We need to feel heard and understood; otherwise, we do not feel loved.
Conversation with yourself
There are going to be times when you need to resolve conflicts or discuss issues, and it is important to learn how to do this successfully. Before you start a conversation with your partner, I want you to have a conversation with yourself. This really is the most important conversation you can have for your relationship.
Before giving your emotions a voice, let them calm down a few notches. You are not thinking clearly when you are upset. Do something to calm down and give yourself time before acting. When we communicate out of anger, we are more likely to say the wrong thing or say something we regret. Our partners go into defensive mode when talked to out of anger, and their brains do not think logically.
Consider the why
It is time to consider why you are frustrated or angry. I find frequently that the catalyst for my anger is not really what the true issue is all about. I need some space and time to think about what is truly bothering me. I might think I am upset because my partner did or did not do something, but really I am feeling neglected or unloved, and that is the underlying issue that I need to address. Now once I understand that, I may or may not need to address it with him. Sometimes what is below the surface can involve issues of trust, love, respect, loyalty, etc. Also, once you calm down, you might decide the issue really is not that big of a deal. You might be having a bad day, or you might be hungry or tired. Whatever the reason, sometimes once you are calmer, you may decide the conversations isn’t necessary; however, don’t let things build up and get out of control. If it is a discussion you need to have because you aren’t happy, then make time for it. Remember to choose your battles. You want most of your time together to be positive.
Now for the conversation
Before you start your discussion, remember that the other person is not you. They may not even understand why you are upset. They do not have the same life experiences you do. They may not have the same expectations either. How you approach your partner with issues becomes very important. Before you get angry that your partner does not understand you or see the issue the same way you do, stop for a minute and try to find out if you are on the same page. You may need to explain a little more about why you are upset.
Communication can be a challenge in relationships. Couples talk but do not always communicate effectively with each other. Our positive interactions must outweigh the negative ones; otherwise, one or both partners will begin to avoid conversations and ultimately avoid the relationship.
Remember, start by having a conversation with yourself. Get clear about what you really are upset about and what you need to communicate to your partner. The real issue may not be what you originally thought it was. Then decided if the conversation is needed. If it is, make sure you are clear in your communication with your partner and keep the conversation as positive as you can. Keep the focus on expressing your feelings and needs appropriately.
This information was taken from my book, Unmasking Secrets to Unstoppable Relationships: How to Find,Keep and Renew Love and Passion in Your Life. You can find more information there about how to resolve conflict in your relationship.
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Lori Ann Davis, MA, CRS