Communicating your feelings to your partner is sometimes easier said than done. A lot of times we struggle to find the words to really express ourselves, especially in a way that will be well received by our partners.
Sometimes, despite your best intentions, what should be Huxtable moments on the couch turn out like an episode of your favorite notorious reality TV Show. Communication difficulties are actually the number one reason couples divorce in the United States. According to one study, 67.5% of marriages that ended did so mainly because of communication problems.
Common Communication Pitfalls:
- Blaming your partner or criticizing them
- Being defensive when your partner shares their feelings
- Calling your partner names/labeling your partner negatively
- Giving the silent treatment – refusing to respond to your partner’s bids to communicate
- Interrupting or cutting your partner off
- Shutting down and withdrawing emotionally and verbally. Giving the silent treatment.
Difficulties with communication can lead to increased arguments/conflict, lack of trust, feelings of insecurity, emotional distancing, and overall stagnation and unhappiness in a relationship. Communication is a skill that is essential to a happy and healthy partnership and may take some practice.
Five Ways to Communicate Your Feelings In Relationships:
- Say What You Need – Think of what you need to resolve how you are feeling. What brought up the feelings in the first place? What needs attention, or what could your partner be missing? Our partners can’t read our minds and can misread behaviors. A way to reduce the tension is to begin to say what you need. That might sound like: I get really worried and scared if I don’t hear from you when you’re running late. Can you give me a call or text if you’re running late?
- Use “I” Statements – “I” statements are a great way to express how you feel to your partner and avoid common pitfalls. Using “you” statements can quickly be taken as blaming and tends to raise the temperature of conflict. An example of this is, “I feel sad when we don’t spend time together” vs. “you never spend time with me” can you see the difference?
- Label your feelings – Give words to how you feel. It is helpful for your partner to hear and know your exact emotions instead of going silent or communicating with passive-aggressive actions.
Are You Ready To Communicate Your Feelings?
- Take A Break – If conversations get difficult, it can be helpful to take a break and do something to self-soothe or calm the intensity of your emotions. To slow down the pace of the conflict, use an “I” statement and express your need for a break positively. That might sound like: I think I’m starting to get overwhelmed. Can you give me 20 minutes to calm down before we continue? Always revisit the conversation when you are calmer instead of ignoring or avoiding the issue.
Relationships need healthy challenges that allow partners to grow together. Be patient with yourself and your partner, try a skill like validation and avoid those common communication pitfalls described above. As you improve your communication style, both in how you express yourself and respond to how others express themselves to you, you will see growth in your relationships.
Think you might need some more practice in this area? Join us on 4.11.22 at 6 PM EST for a FREE Couples Workshop on Communication. Our community deserves more skills, and we are here to facilitate it. Register in advance here 👈🏾
Article by Alyssa Heavens a Marriage and Family Associate at Kensho Psychotherapy Services. Piece edited by Supervisor and Mental Health Consultant, Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R