Relationships are a wonderful part of life. We’re talking about long walks on the beach, movie night, laughing till your sides ache at your favorite joke.
But of course relationships involve hard work too! The best relationships are those where both the parties are willing to put in the work and show their commitment to moving forward. And one of the top blocks to moving forward? That is communication problems.
Communication problems can leave you both feeling frazzled and frustrated. Sometimes it seems like they just don’t get you. Or maybe you’re wondering why you can’t tackle that one thorny issue without it descending into a fight.
Communication problems are rarely unsolvable. Sometimes a few simple tweaks is all it takes to get your relationship back on track again. Why not check out our top ten causes of relationship communication problems, and see if you can make any changes today?
1. Too much screen time
Phones are great. And we love Netflix. But too much screen time can cause communication problems. It’s hard to be present with your partner if you’re scrolling Facebook or clicking the browse button on your favorite streaming service. Unplug once in a while and give them your full attention.
2. Casual jealousy
Casual jealousy is what happens when you wonder who every text is from, or get jealous because you saw them laughing with someone. Assuming the worst damages both communication and trust.
3. Harsh words
It’s hard to listen to someone who is insulting you. Harsh words make it difficult to hear the real meaning behind the message. After all, most people go on the defensive if they feel accused. Try to speak more gently and see what happens.
4. Unrealistic expectations
Our partners can’t always know what we feel, or what we want. And sometimes they just can’t put as much focus into the relationship as we like – life gets in the way from time to time. If you’re struggling to communicate, reality check your expectations.
5. Hiding feelings
Being honest about your feelings is the heart of good communication. It’s difficult to get a resolution or move forward with an issue, if one of you isn’t being honest. Make a pact to be truthful with each other and deal with feelings together rather than sweeping them under the rug.
6. Making them responsible for us
No one else is responsible for our thoughts and feelings. If you’re making your partner responsible for keeping you happy, your communication will become clouded by frustration and the weight of all those expectations. Own your feelings so you can handle them with grace and openness. Practice good self care and take steps to meet your own emotional needs so you can communicate with your partner from a place of strength.
7. Not knowing their love language
Everyone has their own love language. Getting to know your partner well can work wonders for your relationship communication. Maybe they respond well to praise, or like to talk things out. Perhaps they enjoy receiving small gifts or reminders that you were thinking of them. Some people react best to practical help, such as help with chores. When you learn to understand their language, you can communicate better with them.
8. Keeping score
Keeping score, whether it is of the money spent, chores done, or a list of past wrongs, is toxic to any relationship. It’s hard to communicate well if you feel like your transgressions are going on a cosmic tally sheet. If you want your communications to be honest, loving and helpful, drop the score keeping and only focus on the matter at hand. Remember your partner isn’t your competitor, and you’re not in it to win it. Whatever happened in the past, let it go so you can focus on the present.
9. Poor listening skills
Poor listening skills are a top cause of communication problems. If one of you doesn’t feel heard of validated, or doesn’t understand what the other is trying to get across, frustration and misunderstandings are sure to follow. Instead of waiting for your turn to speak, why not try active listening? Listen carefully to what your partner says, then reflect it back to them in your own words, without judgment or accusation. You’ll learn more about what they mean, and they’ll feel heard – invite them to do the same for you, too.
10. Lack of empathy
Sometimes poor communication simply comes down to not having enough empathy for the other person. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we feel and need and worry about that we forget to take into account what our partner is feeling. It’s not a character flaw – it’s just part of being human. However, if you can learn to put yourself in their shoes and imagine what they are thinking, feeling, and going through, your communications will improve dramatically.
Good communication is a lifelong skill that takes practice. Start by trying out these ten tips today for a smoother, happier relationship.