The secret to a happy and stable relationship lies in effective and frequent communication between a couple. According to martial experts, 90% of the couples seeking relationship therapy are victims of communication problems. Humans are social animals who have a great dependency and urge to connect with another being. Relationship is a complex maze of emotions and expectations, which puts one under a constant pressure to stabilise its foundation. It is natural for a couple to have fights, misunderstandings and arguments but a healthy communication system needs to be implemented to avoid negative consequences.

What are the common problems faced by couples?

Long-term relationships will experience a phase when they will come across conflicts, episodes of mistrust, anger, heated arguments and possibly periods of ignoring each other. Such signs are seen as a dead-end in most relationships as communicating and talking is not enough to solve the problem. Some of the major problems that forces couples to knock at the door of marriage and relationship counsellors are as below:

  • Persistent arguments without resolutions
  • Jealousy
  • A lack of trust
  • Fights over children or household matters
  • A distant feeling from one’s partner
  • Affairs and sexual problems
  • Experiencing difficulty with sexual intimacy
  • Fights over financial problems
  • Arguments over gambling, drinking and other negative behaviours
  • Unfulfilled physical and emotional expectations
  • Feelings of being hurt, disrespected or ignored
  • Weak communication system

What are the different types of relationship communication styles?

1. Expressive: Such people believe in speaking from the heart and look for proper feedback or responses. Relationships where both partners have an expressive communication style are less likely to fall apart for problems are dealt through healthy discussion and expression.

2. Fact-oriented: Partner seldom expresses his feelings but instead uses a factual tone. Such a person seeks approval of view-point or perspective over emotions.

3. Aggressive: This approach throws in the weight of the balance towards oneself. An imposing and controlling nature are the two key traits of an aggressive communicator. Such a person is selfish and only thinks in his own favour. Body language and non-verbal communication is seen as clenched fists, staring gaze and rigid body posture.

4. Passive: The person gives priority to the welfare of other person. A person may have a low self-esteem or self-image and gives in the way of the others. A soft-spoken and apologetic tone of communication is used with excessive head nodding, avoiding eye contact and looking away non-verbal communication.

5. Assertive: This approach demands a balance of rights between you and your partner. It is the best style for promoting a stable relationship. Arguments and discussions both reflect favouring opinions and rights of both partners and it’s a win-win situation for the couple.

How to improve your communication

1. Be the initiator

The first step in laying the foundation of an effective communication system is to realise your own mistakes. Do not let your ego come in between the success of your relationship. Accept your fault, shortcomings and mistakes and make a whole-heartedly apology. Seeking forgiveness helps your partner to realise that their opinion holds immense importance for you. Instead of focusing on your partner’s faults recognise how your own behaviour is perpetuating the issue.

2. Be an active listener

Listening is among the key characteristics of a healthy relationship communication. A good listener does more than just listening to what his partner has to say. He also interprets and analyses emotions and responds promptly. By being a good listener you send positive signals to your partners and make them feel more wanted in your life. If a situation arises where you differ in opinion, do not jump on to attack them by cutting them out and imposing your view. Listen attentively without any criticism and judgement. Defensiveness is a trait you need to unlearn to become a good listener.

3. Focus on non-verbal cues

Often a person feels uncomfortable in letting out their true feelings. One sign of a healthy relationship is when you understand what is really going on in your partner’s head without them having to make an effort to express it. Be attentive to small details whenever your spouse is talking to about an important matter. A hesitant tone and distracted body gestures indicate the presence of an unexpressed issue.

4. Self-expression is necessary

Do not make the mistake of over-assuming. The bad seed that causes relationships to break apart is forming a hypothetical assumption that your partner knows how you feel about a certain matter. Be clear and expressive about any problem and issue to eradicate the chances of a misunderstanding. Building high expectations such as, “He should understand what I am going through”, only results in disappointment and hurtful feelings.

5. Using ” I ” messages

One of the most effective ways of couple communication is to express your feelings with an ” I ” approach. Share with your partner how you feel about the matter. Instead of using “You” approach, which triggers negative responses like defensiveness and aggression from your partner, opt for a neutral method by expressing your feelings.  By using this approach you are not blaming or offending the partner in any way but in fact sharing how you were affected from your partner’s behaviour.

6. Take out time

In today’s world couples find it difficult to take out time to talk to each other. Such habits are resulting in negative consequences that are only widening the gap of communication resulting in unhealthy relationships. Start by introducing one of the following practices in your daily routine:

  • Plan out weekly family outings
  • Talk instead of watching TV in silence
  • Talk every morning in bed
  • Talk while performing house errands
  • Talk while driving

If you are still finding that you are struggling in your relationship communication, marriage therapy or relationship counselling can be a very effective strategy to improve your communication skills.

Australia Counselling is your link to professional relationship counsellors and marriage therapists in Australia. Visit our marriage and relationship issues page to find a counsellor in Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra or regional areas of Australia.