In healthy relationships, couples talk about things that matter to them. Not only do they share experiences about their day-to-day life, they express their needs and disappointments, and work together to resolve problems.
But sometimes there is a communication breakdown, when the only conversations are about paying the bills and whose turn it is to pick the kids. There are many reasons why this happens, and why couples don’t ‘really’ talk anymore:
- One partner engages in monologues and doesn’t allow for dialogue
- One partner has a secret (such as a financial problem or an affair)
- Criticism, disinterest and body language halt the communication process
- It’s too difficult to know where to start
- They don’t listen or interrupt
- They think by ignoring it, the problem it will resolve itself
- They feel they can’t talk without hurting their partner
- They fear being misunderstood
- They fear talking about difficult things will end the relationship
According to relationship experts, communication can make or break a relationship; when silence continues, it creates distance and conflict and risks damaging the union.
If you’re the couple that sits in a restaurant with nothing to say, or find that you just don’t talk as much as you’d like, it’s important to let your spouse know just how concerned you are about the lack of communication. Here are some tips to develop healthy communication:
- Schedule time to talk to each other – choose a time when both of you are relaxed
- Write down feelings and thoughts that you can share during this time
- Don’t interrupt – take turns to speak
- Use open-ended questions like ‘What do you think about…?’
- Stay respectful and avoid making assumptions and judgments
- Rephrase to make sure you fully understand what has been said
- Don’t expect your spouse to be a mind reader – be clear about what you need
- Don’t play games. Be direct and honest and say what you mean.
- Resist the urge to withdraw as ‘revenge’ if you don’t get what you need. It is not productive, and just makes things worse
If you find that it’s been too long and there is too much distance between you, then seeing a counsellor together can help you get the relationship back on track.