For Couples Who Want Greater Clarity & Healthy Communication
Talking to your spouse is hard, isn’t it? But was it always this difficult? I remember when Jachym and I were first dating: the way my heart leaped out of my chest whenever we talked. My whole body would tingle with anticipation.
Each moment of our exchange was special. It always brought a cheesy grin to my face that I couldn’t wipe off. I savored it and always looked forward to talking to him again.
We cried together, shared our world views and it aligned our two hearts into one. Communication in our relationship was a magical force that sprinkled fun and joy into our lives.
But things went South at some point.
The hours of dreaming together and heartfelt sharing turned into nasty bickering.
Some days I would look over at Jachym and feel all the pent-up anger explode: ‘You know that I hate it when you do that. Why do you keep making the same mistakes? Why are you so useless? Can’t you just do things right?’
Then the pendulum would swing in the opposite direction. Tired of another argument that slashes at our hearts, Jachym could not handle it anymore. He’d just pick up and leave, blowing the steam off.
Choosing to walk away from a bomb that did more damage the longer it went on.
I’d collapse onto our couch and cry. Left with no answers and wondering what happened. ‘Why do we do this to one another? How can we stop this?’
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Does this happen to you too? Because we can relate. We made all the mistakes that you can think of when it comes to poor communication in a relationship. But the great thing is that we got out of the argue-hurt-argue cycle. We found our way.
Would you like to know how to have effective communication with your spouse that doesn’t lead to tears and frustration? Fact is, you actually know how.
Think back to the beginning of your relationship…
- Those late-night phone calls that made your heart pound.
- Intimate dates where you revealed your deepest secrets.
- The exciting chase and romance as you two fell in love.
It might be a distant memory now, but connecting and speaking to your partner was once natural.
Communication was the glue that pulled you closer together and connected your worlds into one.
Even though things are different now, you can turn it around. What have we learned through our hard lessons? How did we repair our relationship and make communication fun and loving again? Read on to find out.
Diagnosing Communication Problems in Your Relationship
Ever wondered why communication with your partner got so bad? You’re not crazy, there’s actually a reason for it. It’s hard to spot problems in your own relationship because what you experience on a regular basis becomes ‘normal’.
Have you ever heard of the frog in a pot of water? You start boiling the water, but since the temperature is increasing slowly, the frog doesn’t jump out. It doesn’t notice that it’s getting hotter nor his ultimate demise.
In similar ways, we ignored the little jabs, disagreements and nags at the beginning. Before you know it, you’ve lost complete control of the temperature! Things have gotten out of hand and your marriage is about to boil over.
The worst part?
You don’t know how to reverse time and make it alright again.
To stop this downward spiral and to halt the boiling water before it’s too late, here are the four key signs you need to know. It’s a simple way to identify whether something has gone wrong in your relationship’s communication.
Why wait until you are exhausted from your relationship troubles when you can troubleshoot now? Read on to learn the four signs.
One sign of communication problems is that we are increasingly dissatisfied with our relationship. It’s common to feel discontent from time to time. But if communication isn’t there, we can’t express our dissatisfaction.
When that happens, there’s no way of resolving it besides looking elsewhere for fulfillment. And we all know that leads to even more trouble…
An even more apparent sign is fighting. If you and your spouse are fighting a lot, it’s a visible indicator that your communication could be improved. While conflict is a natural part of a relationship, fighting is a sign of poor conflict resolution skills.
In fights, people usually get hurt and nothing gets resolved. When the same topics or unproductive arguments happen repeatedly, it’s a sure indication that communication in the relationship has reached its limit.
Changes are needed to shift things into clear, effective and transformative communication.
At the very heart of effective communication is connection. When you feel deeply connected to your spouse, it’s easy to talk and understand each other. When you’re disconnected, you may feel like the other person’s speaking another language.
If disconnection is present most of the time, you may even lack the trust to sit down and bring up what’s truly troubling you.
How are you ever going to be on the same page if you can’t speak from the depth of your heart?
The frustration can lead to even more disconnection. It’s then no wonder that poor communication leads to unfulfilling and short-lived relationships.
It’s a clear indication that communication isn’t on the right track when one or both partners feel misunderstood. When this happens, the current approach isn’t getting to the heart of the issue nor is it helping you to resolve it.
After all, if there’s a misunderstanding, you can simply clear it up. If you can’t, what does that tell you about the level of communication in the relationship?
These four symptoms of poor relationship communication probably gave you a better idea of how problems persist in your relationship.
The more disconnected, misunderstood, and dissatisfied we feel in a relationship, the wider that gap grows between us and our loved ones. The more that unproductive fights happen, the more we hurt each other.
You can’t afford to delay addressing these communication problems. When left to run on its own course, it will only get worse and the hurt will deepen. Speaking from first-hand experience, it’s the worst thing to be hurt and to hurt the one person you love the most.
Reading up until now means that you’re here to solve these issues.
In the next sections, find out why communication with your partner has been challenging or near impossible. It’ll help you make sense of your own relationship troubles.
We’re right here with you, so don’t give up!
The Common Mistake That Keeps Misunderstandings In Place: Defensive Communication
Imagine this: You get home from work and start chatting with your significant other. Within seconds, it quickly spirals out of control.
Smiles turn into hostile stares and accusations.
The once neutral conversation has you both aggravated and on edge. Like in a bad movie that you can’t pause, the raw emotions crack in your voice while your partner strikes back with annoyance.
Like a nasty duel that neither of you signed up for, you and your partner are in opposition and acting defensively.
The verbal strikes are taken personally. Someone (if not everyone) ends up feeling offended and insecure. Does this sound familiar?
This is the common communication style that keeps relationships stuck. Defensive communication: have you heard of it before? If not, you certainly have experienced it.
If Jachym and I were arguing, this destructive communication style was there. It made things overly emotional and kept the conversation at the surface level so we couldn’t solve any conflict.
When you or your partner perceives what is said as a threat, you will try to defend, deny, or attack. You’ll judge and hurt the one you love most.
It is a recipe for destroying your relationship over time.
How you approach the conversation (in a neutral, threatening or careful way) isn’t always the determining factor for defensive communication. Our interpretation of what is being said and the resulting emotions determine whether we feel attacked or not.
To have a thriving relationship, it is a key skill to identify defense communication. Let’s find out how.
How Do You Spot Defensive Communication?
Having more awareness of defensive communication can help you address things before it spirals out of control. Are you already aware of this behavior in you or your partner? In either case, it’s relationship-saving to know the signs to watch out for.
First, you have to be present in the conversation. When you are, you will notice a shift in:
- body language,
- tonality, and
- use of language.
All these aspects of the conversation can change. Although subtle, when you instinctively pick up on how an exchange has shifted, it’s related to one of the three elements above.
Another way to identify defensive communication is by content pattern. For example, your communication may have reached a stage where specific topics are hot buttons. Whenever you or your partner brings up a specific topic, there’s an immediate shift into anger and defensiveness.
Just because the topic has become an emotional one doesn’t mean that you should avoid it.
Not discussing this topic will harm the relationship and create more and more ‘off boundary’ topics over time.
That might sound like a scary task now, but we have you covered. That’s why the second part of this article will get into the practical steps so hot buttons aren’t ‘off limits’ anymore.
Now let’s find out how to deal with this destructive communication style for good.
How Can You Address Defensive Communication?
If you relate to our scenario above, don’t feel discouraged. Just because defensive communication is present in your relationship doesn’t mean that it’s doomed. There are tried and true ways to work on it and we’ll show you how.
We don’t recommend calling out this communication style when the other person is already becoming defensive. When an animal is pushed into a corner, they’ll try to fight their way out. Any further input could just be taken as another threat.
It’s better to have a separate conversation about how you two are communicating. If this isn’t something that you do regularly, make sure to ask your partner for some time to sit-down and talk.
Take the initiative and create the right environment for the best results.
Here are some questions to consider in a sit-down session with your partner:
- Is your partner feeling that your way of communicating leads to resolutions and that they are fruitful?
- How do they feel when you two talk about something that is a hot topic for one of you?
- Would they also like to find a way to talk to one another that is resolution focused?
If you take the time to walk through these questions with your partner, you’ll most likely noticed that what you are doing right now isn’t working.
As hard as it can be to face the raw truth, this honest diagnosis actually enables you to gently address what is happening. Without identifying the problem, you would’ve gone in circles with your spouse and not have gotten any closer to the resolution.
Now that your relationship communication problems have become clearer, let’s dive into how we can fix them.
A relationship can either be a place of deep wounding or deep healing.- Natasha & Jachym Jerie
How to Fix Ineffective Communication-
From Dysfunction To Trusting Connection In A Relationship
Just like building a strong, loving relationship took time and effort, so will fixing the communication in your relationship. Jachym and I healed our broken communication and have helped others to mend their failing relationships.
If you feel that your relationship is worth saving, then the following exercises and tips are worth doing.
These are tried and tested. They are what we live by and what healthy relationships are made of. Don’t worry if you haven’t done them before, it’s your engagement that counts. Let’s get started.
Set Time Aside
When your interactions with your partner are unproductive, dissatisfying, and hurtful, both partners will feel less inclined to talk to each other. Having this negative association can lead to less and less communication.
When you do talk, it can often end in a fight. That’s why it is vital to re-establish regular talking.
No matter how hurt you feel inside or how long you have ignored this issue, set time aside when you and your partner talk. Start with pleasant and engaging conversations first to ensure you don’t repeat the same destructive behavior.
Set aside 20 minutes a few times a week where you check in with each other. Find out about your partner’s dreams and desires. Have a time where you both can empty your hearts about your sorrows at work without the other partner trying to help you.
Just listen to each other. It can do wonders. It’ll make talking to your spouse about your marriage enjoyable.
Prioritizing Communication Exercise:
- Commit 20 minute blocks of time at least 2-3 times a week just to be with each other
- Engage with the intention to fully understand where your partner is coming from
- Take a listening stance as opposed to a persuasive or influential stance
- Do not talk about your relationship issues
When communicating is uncomfortable, you feel disconnected, disheartened, and misunderstood.
It can be easier to just keep things to yourself but doing that stops any possibility of growth and resolution. Yes, some conversations can be challenging; however, if we don’t address what needs to be worked through, it will poison the relationship slowly. Before you know it, you are both going your separate ways.
Honesty is crucial in a relationship. Without it, there is little hope of creating a relationship that is deeply fulfilling.
Frankness does not only apply to your partner. It also applies to you.
How honest are you with yourself?
Sometimes we can talk ourselves into believing things that simply aren’t true for us. By doing that, we are often hurting ourselves because we are going against what is really important to us. As much as we recommend being truthful with your partner, you can only be as honest to them as you are to yourself.
Honest Communication Exercise:
- Be honest with yourself: get to know how you feel and what is happening within you
- Open up the communication so that honesty is built into a foundation over time
You’re the creator of your relationship, if you want to change it, it starts with you. Always.- Natasha & Jachym Jerie
Let Your Partner Speak Their Mind and Heart
So many people want to be seen, heard, and understood that they want to talk NOW. They don’t listen; they just look for an opportunity to start speaking.
Allow your partner to express themselves without you interrupting. If this is hard for you, set a timer for each other. Each party gets 10 minutes to talk without being interrupted.
Who else will listen to your partner the way you do? It’s an immense gift you can give to your loved one.
Active Listening Exercise:
- Set aside 20 minutes so that you can each speak for 10 minutes uninterrupted
- Practice empathetic and deep listening
- Be there for your partner without judging or trying to change them
- Choose some smaller issues in your relationship
- At the end tell your partner what you have heard and see if they agree
Be Present With Your Partner and Yourself
Put away your phone and turn it off.
If you have kids, make sure they know that you will be busy for a small amount of time or do it when they are not around.
If you have practical matters on your mind, write them down on a piece of paper so that you can go back afterward.
Being present with someone surpasses any words you could ever speak to this person. Your presence can be incredibly healing and nurturing.
So many people are busy thinking about work, lunch, or a movie that they are not present with their partner.
What’s the point of scheduling a date night if you can’t even mentally be there? How will you ever feel seen or acknowledged if your partner isn’t present?
The same goes for yourself. Be present to the thoughts, emotions and sensations that are coming up within you.
The more present you can be, the more you can feel yourself. You can’t express your feelings or what you need if you don’t even know yourself or what is happening within you.
Be present; it literally can change the entire relationship.
Connecting Through Presence Exercise:
- Be mindful of where your head is at and be more aware of what kind of thoughts pop up
- Give your partner your full attention
- Be absorbed by the experience of being together
- Use breath or physical touch to ground you in the present moment
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Maybe you felt lost before reading this article, but now you have solid steps to finally improve your communication. It is the basis of a loving, lifelong relationship, so you’re on the brink of breakthroughs that can turn everything around.
Don’t worry about messing up or whether it’s worth the effort. Because it is.
How much time do we spend arguing, fighting and in disagreement? How much time would you rather spend nurturing the relationship instead?
No one should suffer in a relationship full of miscommunication, confusion and unanswered questions.
The past and what either of you have said or done aren’t the enemy here. You can work together to address these issues even if it’s your first time.
That’s why the exercises in this article are simple and practical. Here’s a breakdown of them step-by-step:
- Diagnose communication problems,
- Identify and address defensive communication,
- Start prioritizing communication,
- Practice honest communication and active listening, and
- Nurture a deep presence with your partner.
Take action today. Commit to the exercises that resonate for you. Be open to the results.
Now for the best part yet, do you know the vital relationship communication skills that keep happy couples together?
It’s one thing to overcome the current problems, but what if it happens again? Would you like to learn the key to facing any communication hiccups in the future?
We know what keeps communication effective in the long-run, that’s why we wrote the second part of this article here.
We get it, you’ve been through enough. You honestly don’t need more of this mess or to relive it all over again.
You and your partner can have a successful marriage no matter what obstacles life throws at you.
All you need are the crucial skills and long-term strategies for healthy communication in a relationship.
What are they? Access the article here.
Get talking. Get loving. Get connected.