A lot of the couples I work with seem to come into my office with a general principle in mind: “We Have Problems, Fix Them.” What I used to do was try to manage the problems first, and deal with the issues that are at hand. But then, I started to realize something: It doesn’t matter how hard we try to fix them, if the couple’s communication is lousy, then the management of the issues is going to be lousy.
So its a new approach to an old problem, and it got me thinking: how many others out there are having difficulty communicating, and if this is the case, how many problems we run into in relationships are the result of poor communication?
How do you know if you have poor communication? Here are some telltale signs:
1. Misunderstanding: Seems obvious, right? But if you find that your partner is not understanding what you’re saying, maybe its time to assess how you’re saying what you’re trying to say.
2. Unresolved Conflicts: If the last fight you had was unresolved, chances are it will play out in the next conversation you have. In fact, you may find that those old conflicts are coming up in your everyday conversations.
3. Angry Retort: Remember those unresolved conflicts? They often come with teeth. Angry emotions tend to fly and as a result, the communication is not about resolving the issue, and it ends up being a verbal firefight.
4. Silence: This is a clear sign things aren’t going well. If there is no communication at all, then this is a sure sign. A lot of couples manage their communication this way, figuring that if their communication is bad, its better that they don’t talk at all. This is probably the worst case scenario, and it can often be one of the biggest signs that something needs to change.
If you start seeing these signs, it might be good to consider getting some help. Sure the other issues are at the forefront, but its probably best to manage the communication issues first, then focus in on the bigger issues once you can talk about them without tearing each other’s heads off.