Is Lack of Communication a Problem in Your Relationship?
Do you and your partner disagree over how much you communicate with one another? Does one person’s desire to share more – either frequently or deeply – cause discomfort and conflict in the relationship? This blog post will help you identify common problems around lack of communication and give you some ideas on how to solve it.
Issues Around Lack of Communication Can Have Different Forms
The frequency or depth of communication that each person is comfortable with will differ between partners, and many couples find it tricky to find a balance that is satisfying to both people. Often times, one person feels alone from the lack of communication while the other feels overwhelmed or smothered. Couples struggling with lack of communication tend to experience one of two common cycles: not talking often and avoiding deeper feelings.
1. NOT TALKING OFTEN
When one of you wants to share everything and the other is more private, both members feel frustrated with the amount or frequency of communication.
The One Who is Always Talking
Sometimes, you might get really frustrated with your partner for not starting conversation, not checking in with you throughout the day, or just being preoccupied about something else. You feel like you’re doing your part, but they just don’t respond. It feels like you’re living with a stranger! Tips to change these situations:
A. SCHEDULE TALK TIME
Rather than starting up important conversations as soon as they come to your mind or as soon as you seen your partner, let him/her know that you would like to plan a time to talk. Let your partner know (briefly) what the topic is about so that you can both come to the conversation ready to talk about the topic at hand.
B. TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE
If you are a talker, an extrovert, or just love communicating (and your partner doesn’t), try to find other outlets for your love for connection. Chat with friends or family on the phone, or try to find a job or volunteer work that allows you to use your social side.
C. AGREE TO A SIGNAL
You and your partner can work together to agree on a signal that indicates he/she is tired of talking and needs a break. This signal doesn’t excuse him/her from the conversation – you should both agree on a time to come back to it. But taking a break can be helpful for both partners to clear their heads before coming back together to continue talking.
The Silent One
When you are the less talkative one in a couple, your partner’s constant desire to share can be overwhelming and turn you off to talking about anything. The more they push, the more you withdraw. You want to know about the important stuff about your partner – but it’s not all important stuff! Tips to change these situations:
A. START SMALL
Figure out what little changes you can make to share more with your partner. Maybe send them a quick text about what you are doing when you are apart. Or, commit to sharing one story from your day with your partner each evening. Just sharing the best and worst thing from your day can help your partner feel more part of your life.
B. FIND COMMON GROUND
Is there a hobby or interest that you and your partner both enjoy that you can connect over? Whether it be your children or a new episode of a TV show, finding something you are both passionate about can be a great way to start talking more.
C. AGREE TO A SIGNAL
You and your partner can work together to agree on a signal that indicates when you are tired of talking and need a break. This signal doesn’t excuse you from the conversation – you should both agree on a time to come back to it – but taking a break can be helpful for both partners to clear their heads before coming back together to continue talking.
2. AVOIDING DEEPER FEELINGS
Even if you and your partner talk pretty regularly, sharing the deeper feelings and more private parts of ourselves with our partner can sometimes be challenging. Sharing hidden emotions is difficult to do. When one or both partners struggle to open up and share these vulnerable feelings, it can make the relationship feel surface level or leave you feeling emotionally distanced from your partner. Tips to improve this problem:
A. VALIDATE WHAT YOUR PARTNER SHARES
When your partner opens up to share a hidden emotion with you or shares a deeper feeling, validate it! Thank them for being vulnerable with you, paraphrase what you heard them say (like when you are in the listener role). Try your best not to disagree with what they are feeling or compete with their emotions (e.g. “you were sad, well I was devastated!”). Every person is entitled to their own feelings, and when you partner shares one of those with you, let them know you understand them – even if you don’t agree.
B. FOCUS ON YOUR SHARING
Although it might be easier to wait for your partner to start one of these deep conversations or share a hidden emotion, remember you are working together as a team, and change starts with you! It’s okay, and even good, to let your partner know you are nervous about sharing.
C. SHARE SMART
If you try to start a deep conversation while your partner is cooking dinner, the baby is crying, and the TV is blaring, you probably know from experience that it isn’t going to go anywhere. Instead, pick a time to have these conversations when both you and your partner can focus on one another – just like you’ve been doing with the conversations in the program. Whether it is early morning or in the evening that works best, pick a time when both of you can focus on one another with few interruptions.
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