Every relationship has its challenges. Just like most other things in life there are hills and valleys, good times and difficult ones. You have to endure the challenges in order to make it to the blissful episodes. How you respond to those challenges will determine if you stay together and make it to the next level or get torn apart. But like any industry, science or any enterprise, it’s good to anticipate what trends, problems or issues might be coming down the pike in order to preempt problems before they occur. One particular problem lots of couples run into are communication problems. People generally communicate in different ways about their inner most life, needs, desires and emotional states. We all have nuances in how we communicate that are determined by the household we grew up in, how we were raised, our social and dating life growing up and the experiences we had. We need to be able to hear our partner through how they communicate, and help our partner understand us, our point of view and how we communicate. So how do you best deal with communication problems in a relationship?
Any relationship problem you may be having starts with communication problems. The first thing to do is set up a good time and day to have a marriage meeting. You may want to do these periodically or merely check in with your significant other from time to time to make sure that things are okay. Sometimes we harbor things from our spouse but don’t know how to address them. By checking in we make it okay to express them. Once you have a good time to meet turn off all distractions. Put the children to bed, turn off the TV and cell phones. Do you two often end up shouting at one another? This could be due to frustration, not seeing eye-to-eye or one or both people growing up in families where shouting was okay. Try talking in a public place like a library or park. Practice active listening with your partner. Repeat back or sum up what they’ve said to show you understand and have it right. Validate their feelings. “I can understand why you felt that way,” whatever way it was. Sometimes just understanding and showing a little sympathy can take the bite out of an impending fight. Don’t interrupt each other, it’s rude. Learn to compromise and work together for the good of the relationship. Set up ground rules and follow them. If you are experiencing a rocky point breaking up your wedded bliss or just in your relationship and want to find out more on how to mitigate and alleviate the situation, try reading The Marriage Turnaround by family and marriage therapist Mitch Temple.