Poor communication within a relationship is one of the biggest reasons couples will ultimately separate and divorce., a Lifestyle website, actually polled 100 psychologists and counsellors a few years ago and discovered that problems with communication represented by far the most common factor that leads to divorce (as conflict resolution issues being the next most significant cause of marriage breakdown).

For men, complaining and nagging by their spouse are the top communication complaints. For women, lack of validation from their spouse when they share opinions or feelings is the most common issue.

Experts believe there are four major areas in where communication issues can derail a relationship:

  • Contempt
  • Defensiveness
  • Criticism
  • Refusal to communicate (stonewalling or, at worst, the “silent treatment”)

Communication needs to be mastered before a couple even gets married.

There are important things to discuss before making that commitment, including future goals; desire for having or not having children; expectations about money, career versus family, living circumstances, and fidelity; and cultural and religious compatibility.

Effectively communicating about all of these is essential to determining whether you are in agreement about the key issues in a relationship, which determines the long-term compatibility of the relationship – even keeping in mind that people and circumstances do change over time.

How to facilitate better communication

  • Talk to each other to avoid misunderstandings. Misunderstandings only lead to anger, hurt, confusion, and resentment.
  • Communicate face to face – avoid having important discussions via email, over the phone, or via text message.
  • Make a little time most days to talk one on one without interruptions.
  • Be clear, open and honest in what you want to say.
  • Wait until you are calm before a potentially difficult discussion.
  • Accept responsibility for your own feelings.
  • Share positive feelings as well as grievances.
  • Avoid using a defensive or aggressive tone.
  • Be open to not needing to “win” a discussion every time. Learn to let trivialities go.
  • Sometimes you both need to agree to disagree – and if you are going to argue, fight fair every time.
  • Don’t make accusatory statements – own your feelings.

Understand that communication is not just verbal; it is also reflected in tone of voice, facial expressions, and body posture. Body language speaks volumes.

Perhaps the most important part of effective communication is listening to your partner. Many of us are very good at having our say but don’t do so well at listening and hearing the other person. A good listener will encourage their partner to be open and honest, and feel safe to communicate.

Good listening skills are crucial in a relationship, and include:

  • Maintaining comfortable eye contact.
  • Committing to the conversation – mute phones, televisions, and avoid other distractions.
  • Showing genuine interest and concern.
  • Being open and facing the other person without crossing arms or legs.
  • Not interrupting!

Additionally, you should build companionship with your partner by sharing common interests and experiences, sharing intimacy (emotional as well as physical), being open with your partner, trusting your partner, and working together towards common goals in life.

Communication is so important in any relationship, but never more so than in a marriage or similar partnership.

By learning how to communicate more effectively, it is easier to navigate the ups and downs that all relationships face, dealing better with conflict, connecting, and meeting each others’ needs.

If substandard communication is an issue in your relationship, consider seeing a counsellor together to work through the issues and improve communication skills. It might save your marriage and help you avoid divorce down the track.

MUST READ BLOG: Speaking to a psychologist or counsellor can be incredibly beneficial to your healing process.

In most cases you will need a helping with your separation and divorce.  Having the right people in your corner in imperative to the outcome. We can help you focus on your future so you get the best result.

If you are separating, please talk to us about the process you need to take to get the best possible outcome for everyone involved.

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