Couples Communication Difficulties

Reactivity leads to losing strategies in communication.

Do you find yourself reacting before you have had time to think about how you might want to respond? Do you find that your partner can always bring out the worst in you?

When relationship patterns develop over time it takes hard work to change them.  The way we communicate is intimately tied to our emotional sensitivity.  When we are hurt in relationships and we keep retaliating or shutting down these hurts don't get repaired. Bad habits develop out of being hurt and having bad role models. So the ways we have learned to communicate or hide parts of ourselves are well-worn habits.

Common Strategies we Use

When we don't get what we need from our partner we can develop patterns of communicating that use these strategies as a way of trying to force our partner ( control, being right, retaliation ) to get what we want or deal with the disappointment and hurt (unbridled self-expression, withdrawal). The problem is these strategies are guaranteed to not get you what you want.

  • Being Right
  • Control
  • Retaliation
  • Unbridled Self Expression
  • Withdrawal

Many of you may feel that your partner just doesn't understand you and the more you try to explain yourself the worse it gets. It is easy to give up trying to communicate and end up letting feelings of frustration and hurt go unspoken.  Resentment will fester and you end up becoming more and more distant.

How we work on couples communication

  • Learning to manage emotional reactions. This is one of the most common ways that people interrupt communication. Feelings of anger hurt and frustration need to be soothed and calmed down before discussing important issues.
  • Learn to deal with your Projections, assumptions, and sensitivities. Communication is clouded by these processes.
  • Learn about typical bad habits. Whining, blaming, being vague, criticizing, explaining, justifying, and stonewalling are all examples of bad habits.
  • Identifying what you want from each other.  Learning to be clear, deal with one thing at a time, and complete the conversation.
  • Understanding what communication symbolizes for each other.
  • Learning to be curious about what your partner is saying and listening more deeply.
  • Learning that respect acknowledges your partner's perspective and that no one has a corner on being 'right'.
picture of two peoples hands holding clasped