The 3 biggest communication mistakes couples make
Good communication is key to happy, lasting relationships but it doesn’t always come easily. Many couples experience difficulties in their relationship due to a lack of effective communication rather than a lack of love or compatibility. Here are the most common mistakes couples make.
1. Emotional dishonesty
Say what you mean and mean what you say. We all know the golden rule but many misunderstandings are caused by people not saying things as much as saying them.
Sometimes we omit things to protect our partner’s feelings or because we’re worried they won’t like us as much if they know how we really feel. These little white lies may not seem very important on their own but they tend to build up and can stop intimacy and trust from developing. While it’s good to be flexible and open-minded, repressing your true feelings for fear of your partner’s response often results in a big blow up out of proportion to the final trigger which causes it. This can leave you both hurt and confused.
Even if it makes you feel vulnerable it’s important to be as honest as possible with your partner about your feelings. Don’t expect them to be able to read your mind, most people can’t – if you say you’re happy about something then they’ll assume that you’re telling the truth. Take responsibility for your own happiness and be clear with your partner about how they contribute to it, or not, as the case may be.
2. Speaking different languages
In the famous book ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,’ John Gray highlighted the fact that women and men communicate in very different ways. The biggest difference is that men communicate to impart information while women talk to share feelings.
Women will often say things in the hope that their partner will interpret the meaning behind their words and fulfil her request. Men get frustrated by this lack of clarity and respond much better to clear requests like, ‘Please will you take the rubbish out’ than, ‘The dustbin men come tomorrow and there’s lots of rubbish to go out.’
Understanding your partner’s communication style is important as we all communicate in unique ways. Ask for clarity if you don’t understand what they’re asking and reflect back what you have heard.
3. Not listening
Listening is as important an aspect of communication as speaking is. It’s frustrating when you feel like your partner isn’t listening to you and it can affect the bond between you.
When someone doesn’t listen it can feel like they don’t care. They may forget important dates or your preferences in terms of food or activities. Sometimes they may seem to not be listening because they’re carrying on with other things while you’re speaking to them or have closed body language (crossed arms) and lack of eye contact. Someone may be with you in body but you sense they are not fully present.
Obviously your partner cannot give you their undivided attention 24/7 so it’s important to let them know when you need them to pay full attention to what you’re saying. We teach people how to treat us.
Try actively listening to your partner. Instead of formulating your response in your head really take notice, not just of their words, but the feelings behind the words. Notice their body language and whether they are asking for your help or just sharing something with you. Ask for clarity if you’re unsure.
Try to give some time of the day to really talk to each other without the distraction of phones, TV or the internet. A 10 minute check in at the beginning, or end, of each day can stop big problems caused by lack of communication from building up.
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