Do you find that communicating with your significant other causes more problems than it solves? If so, your relationship may be suffering from a lack of communication. Healthy communication patterns include both specific skills and a connection with your partner. This includes staying positive, limiting anger and engaging in active listening. An adequate communication style is important for the longevity and quality of your relationship, and you and your spouse should resolve to communicate effectively.
Conflict exists in all relationships, and when communication is difficult or impossible, conflict often goes unresolved. Negative communication patterns, such as inconsistencies with tone or body language and different communication styles, can even lead to conflict escalation in some cases. By adopting an effective communication pattern with your partner, you will be more equipped to settle disagreements and resolve conflict without negative consequences to your relationship. This includes using “I” statements, focusing on the problem instead of the person, listening and providing feedback, and avoiding interrupting or blaming.
The way that you or your spouse presents a topic for discussion or the body language that accompanies this topic can lead to confusion or misunderstandings. For example, after a stressful day at work, your partner may seem uninterested or angry while communicating with you about other subjects. While this and similar types of interactions might seem personally targeted toward you or the relationship, they could actually be the result of ineffective communication skills. Tips for reducing misunderstandings include considering the other person, staying positive and being open and clear about feelings or concerns the other person may have.
A lack of communication can lead to consistent negativity in interactions. Ineffective communication attempts tend to distress those involved, which can result in reciprocated negative exchanges and, eventually, a cycle can develop says Frank Finchum in the “Handbook of Family Communication.” This can make it difficult to move towards a more effective communication style. It is also important to remember that communication patterns also involve nonverbal exchanges, such as eye contact, tone of voice and other cues.
Communication problems and the conflict that often results have been known to contribute to reduced relationship satisfaction and eventual breakup. Not being able to communicate effectively can make you feel incompatible with your partner or frustrated with the relationship in general. Findings from a study reported in Journal of Family Issues listed poor communication as influential in the decision to divorce for both men and women. This suggests that adopting good patterns of communication can help you and your spouse to maintain a successful relationship.
- Utah State University Cooperative Extension: Effective Communication Skills: Resolving Conflict
- A WorkLife4You Guide: Communication Skills for Healthy Relationships
- Virginia Cooperative Extension: Keys to Successful Family Functioning
- Handbook of Family Communication: Anita L. Vangelisti
- Journal of Family Issues: People's Reasons for Divorcing
- Communication Monograph: Nonverbal Communication and Marital Adjustment
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images