Effective communication is one of the best, most rewarding skills to have. It’s integral to well-being. Our ability to adequately and accurately express ourselves depends upon it; it’s how we share individual experience with those around us.
It’s how we connect.
It enables us to bond with others… and ultimately? It’s how we feel less alone.
Yet, this skill is not taught.
And, to make it even more confusing, there are many other contributing factors that muddy the communication waters.
Let’s take a peek at 5 common barriers to effective communication in a relationship, and discuss what you can do to get around them.
1. You’ve Lost Touch with Yourself and Don’t Know What Your Real Needs Are
Many of us lead pretty busy and chaotic lives. Between work and kids, there’s not a lot of time to check in with ourselves, reflect on how things are going, and gauge how we feel overall.
Going through the motions has somewhat of a numbing effect.
When you lose touch with yourself, it becomes much harder to communicate what your needs are, and how you’re feeling, because you don’t even know.
This can lead to lashing out irritably, without knowing why.
This lack of insight is a huge barrier to communication.
Take 10 minutes out of your day to check in with yourself.
Reflect on things centering around what you need – perhaps it’s more rest, a date night, or to feel seen by your partner – and lay out strategies on what you can do to get there.
Share your reflections with your partner, and ask them how they’re feeling.
Discuss ways you can support and be there for one another.
2. You’ve Allowed Things Happen You’re Not Ok With
Perhaps you come from generations of rug sweepers. Instead of discussing an uncomfortable situation, say your partner has an opposite-sex friendship you’re uncomfortable with, and rather than share how you feel, you pretend it doesn’t bother you.
But it does.
Your discomfort manages to leak out in other ways. Or, you just feel dismissed and undervalued because you didn’t give yourself an opportunity to ask questions and share how you feel.
You end up resentful, and your partner doesn’t know why. They have no idea what’s really going on.
Many people feel shame because of their feelings and needs. Perhaps there’s insecurity in the relationship, and it seems easier to suppress that instead of having an honest discussion.
If you feel there’s a lot there, such as jealousy, shame, and insecurity, this is something you may want to explore with a therapist. Your therapist will help you work through some of the inner pain and confusion so you can approach your partner from a place of insight.
Diminishing and dismissing your feelings never works, it’s a recipe for unhappiness and resentment.
3. You’ve Allowed Too Much Distance to Come Between You
Everybody has heard that relationships take work, yet no one really elaborates on what that work entails.
Want to know what the bulk of the work actually is?
Regular honest communication.
When the two of you first got together, this probably happened naturally. Perhaps two-hour long phone conversations were the norm. People in the beginning stages of a relationship are too high on oxytocin and other feel-good relationship hormones to remember: it’s not always going to be like this, and you’re going to have to make time for it in the future.
The longer you allow distance to grow between you, the wider that gap becomes, and the harder it is to bridge.
Make time for each other a few times a week. Shut off distractions, and be present with one another. Perhaps head out on a walk, or just sit together on the sofa. You are busy, that’s a given. Your relationship is a priority, and needs to be treated as such.
Just like everything else in life – gardens that need weeding and watering, cars that need oil changes, bodies that need to be fed and exercised, and houses that need new roofs – you need to take care of and attend to the things you cherish, and your relationship is no exception.
4. You’ve Forgotten You Are Both Part of the Same Team
Sometimes when there’s a big life change, partners process it differently.
It can feel upsetting if you’re excited about something, for example, and your partner is approaching it from a cautious place. It feels like they’re trying to squash your excitement. In moments like these, it’s important to remember, you’re both part of the same team.
Take a moment to pull back. Have a discussion where you put things into perspective, and get curious.
Let them share their experience; why they feel the way they do. Let them express worries and concerns, and then share your perspective.
When the emotions around the event and experience aren’t as elevated, it’s much easier to appreciate the differences in perspective, and how that strengthens you as a couple. You’re balancing each other out – your part of the same team and the team is stronger because of the different approaches.
5. Rigid Beliefs
Unexamined values and beliefs, we all have them.
Be it the notion that certain things shouldn’t be discussed, or things have to be a certain way. Maybe it’s familial expectations that get handed down from generation to generation.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, of course. But that doesn’t mean a discussion is off limits.
If there are certain topics or things that you feel can’t be discussed openly for whatever reason, share how you feel, but also let your partner know it’s not an attack on them or their identity.
Couples counseling is the most effective way to light the path to effective, honest and real communication. For those who’d like to supercharge their communication, we offer couples counseling in Fair Oaks and Roseville.
We’ve helped countless couples restore intimacy and connection, and have given them the tools to make their relationship better and stronger than even they imagined.
Interested in learning more? Give us a call. We’re always happy to chat, and share ways that we can help.
Begin Couples Counseling in the Sacramento Area:
If you are ready to learn how to deal with the problems in your relationship, the therapists at The Relationship Therapy Center in Fair Oaks, CA and Roseville, CA can help! Our therapists are ready to support you and your partner in your journey towards creating a healthy and happy relationship. To begin marriage counseling in Roseville, CA area, or marriage counseling in Fair Oaks, please follow these three simple steps:
Contact our counseling office to get more information about couples counseling and to schedule a free consultation
Make an appointment with one of our Gottman Method trained therapists
Find support and healing in your relationship!
Other Services offered at The Relationship Therapy Center in California:
In addition to couples counseling, Our Sacramento area counseling clinics located in Roseville and Fair Oaks, CA are pleased to offer a variety of mental health services. Our couples counseling services include: Counseling after infidelity, sex therapy, co-parent counseling, family therapy, divorce counseling, couples therapy retreats, and premarital counseling. Our individual therapy services include, anxiety treatment, trauma therapy, teen therapy, therapy for children, codependency counseling, depression treatment, and individual relationship counseling. We also offer online counseling to California residents. Please contact our office to learn more about the many ways we can help you and your loved ones.