You may have heard your partner express her desire for better communication. But maybe you have a hard time opening up to talk about that. You’re aware of the statistics suggesting that these problems sometimes lead to divorce. But does that have to be what happens to your relationship? One thing many men may not realize is that they’re not alone in struggling to communicate well or in the anxiety it causes and the depression that may result if their relationship is falling apart. The good news is that good communication skills can be learned.
Make Time to Talk
You schedule meetings, doctor’s appointments, and other important events. Scheduling time to spend with your partner is just as important. When you take time out of your working life and other family obligations to focus on them, they’ll not only feel appreciated, but they’ll know for sure you heard their desire for communication and that you’ve made them a priority. It may not be possible to go out together every week, but scheduling at least one hour of quiet time together per week may be doable and is worth prioritizing. Work together to see what helps your relationship and, over time, you’ll figure out what is comfortable and what can become routine.
Talk It Out
Avoiding uncomfortable topics is understandable, but is not healthy for your relationship. Effective communication includes discussing things that are good, as well as bad. Don’t be passive-aggressive. Instead, talk through difficult issues so they can be worked on as a couple. This will help the two of you work through issues together, so that they don’t come up again in the future or, if they do, the two of you know better how to handle them as a couple.
Control Your Emotions
Often your interpretation of a person’s behavior and how they are actually feeling are two very different things. So it is important to remember to be in control of your own emotions and not rush to judgment when assessing how your partner is acting or feeling.
1. Take a step back to evaluate the situation.
2. Think the situation through and assume responsibility for your emotions.
No matter how angry or frustrated you become by her opinions, it’s important to take a deep breath and stay calm. If you react poorly each time she speaks, then you are not being an active listener or an effective communicator. You’re really just reacting. This could lead to her shutting down, and not believing you’re interested in communicating with her.
Effective communication does not include fighting to prove yourself right. This will simply create further conflict in the overwhelming majority of cases. Showing your partner respect as they present an opinion, no matter how much it differs from yours, is essential to improving communication You’ll only insult them if you behave in these ways:
• Berating comments
This behavior is immature. It is also detrimental to your relationship. It will lead you down the opposite direction you want to go in and contrary to the goals you want to achieve.
Be a Good Listener
Good communication requires both parties to listen carefully to the other. This means your partner also has things they would like to express during the conversation. You’re going to be opening up and being vulnerable, of course, but you also have to show them how well you can listen to what they have to say and pay attention to their needs. Your partner needs to speak their mind. They need to feel safe, knowing you’ll understand and, in doing so, this will lead to a stronger relationship. If your partner has become used to you dominating the relationship and doesn’t feel comfortable being vulnerable or honest with you, then encourage them by showing your willingness to listen and that you’re open to what’s on their mind.
Do You Still Need Help?
The type of confusion you’re experiencing is common. Many people need help with family and couples counseling because communicating well is hard and often we feel like we’re going from failure to failure. Rather than thinking divorce is your only option, getting help with anxiety and depression associated with the issues related to your marital problems is a better option.
Where Can You Turn?
Engaging with a seasoned couples therapist could be an option. You may find that as few as 2-4 counseling sessions can be enormously helpful, even transformative for your relationship. There are many resources available too Psychology Today, GoodTherapy, and Networktherapy are all good ways to search for professional help.
At Chaos to Calm Counseling, we work with couples and individuals to facilitate healthy relationships for the betterment of families and society at large. Learn more about our team, schedule a free consult, or call us at (978) 241-2881.