Is there a lack in communication between you and your partner? Are you both bad at communication? Do you both have a history of toxic communication in relationships?
It is incredibly common to have a lack of communication in relationships. Everybody has struggled with that at some point in their lives.
There is only one reason for a lack in communication. In order to see that reason, you have to think about your childhood.
Yes, just about everything I write about stems from your childhood. You can roll your eyes at that, but I promise it’s true.
The reason you lack in communication with others, especially partners, is that you were never taught how to communicate in a healthy way.
Think about it this way. If you were never taught how to walk and you never saw anybody else walking, would you know it was even a possibility to do so? Probably not.
Instead, you might just crawl everywhere because that’s what you saw everybody else doing. The same goes for healthy communication.
That is the reason you lack in the communication department. It can affect almost every aspect of your life.
Bad at Communication
If there is a lack of communication in relationships for you, then you probably have decided you are bad at communication.
Now, that’s where you are quite wrong. You are not bad at communication. You simply lack in communication skills that are healthy because you were never shown what that looks like.
It’s easy to blame your parents, but keep in mind that they, too, have a lack of communication in relationships because their parents never taught them either. You can’t teach what you don’t know.
My guess is that you have struggled your entire life due to a lack in communication. If you’re willing to do the work, you can change that.
Willingness to Improve Communication
As a psychotherapist, I often teach communication exercises for couples. I love working with couples who lack in communication because it can truly change the outcome of the relationship for the better.
Now, you may be wondering what those communication exercises for couples are, but we need to discuss something very important first. Understand that you may not like what you’re about to read.
If there is a lack in communication, it will NEVER get better if only one person in the relationship is willing to do the work. Also, you can’t “make” your partner do his or her work when there is lack of communication in relationships.
If you are in a relationship where your partner refuses to do any work to improve the relationship when you are both bad at communication, then you may be in a toxic relationship. If that is the case, you need to read my post Ways to Walk Away from a Toxic Relationship.
Reminder number two, keep in mind that these communication exercises for couples are pointless if you’re the only one willing to do them. Now that you understand that, I will guide you through ways to improve your lack in communication skills with your partner.
Communication Exercises for Couples:
- You must first identify your feelings.
- Make an agreement for a good time to have the conversation with your partner and stick to it.
- Set a time limit for the conversation.
- Have a physical connection with your partner when you are communicating your feelings.
- Allow your partner to have the feeling he or she is having without challenging that feeling.
- Show gratitude for yourself and your partner for the willingness to improve the lack in communication.
If you think step one is easy, I am going to challenge you on that. Typically, that is the hardest part because just like healthy communication skills, you probably weren’t taught how to identify your feelings.
If that is the case, then you need to read my post, “Teach Feeling Emotions (Emotional Regulation for Kids). Don’t be offended that the post is for teaching kids.
It also guides adults in doing so. It’s an extra bonus if you have kids and want to teach them how to identify their feelings so they don’t have a lack in communication like you.
I’m not going to tell you how to identify your feelings in this post because I’ve already laid that out for you in the aforementioned post. Just keep in mind that you can’ t communicate about your feelings if you don’t know what they are.
Using Time as a Weapon
The reason I say you need to make an agreement on a good time to have a conversation with your partner is that it prevents escalation of the disagreement. Often, we want to talk about the “issue” the moment it happens.
Think about times you’ve done that. I know it’s never gone well for me and I bet that’s the case for you.
You need to understand that time after a disagreement can be used as a weapon. Obviously, you never want to use a weapon on your partner because that’s never healthy and will never go well.
I’ll give you an example of how time can be used as a weapon. You have probably done this or had somebody do it to you.
Let’s say Anna and Joe get into a disagreement. Anna’s “go-to” response is to flee the situation. She gets in her car and decides she’s not coming back for a long time.
That is how she is using time as a weapon. She wants Joe to be punished and to worry about where she is and how long she will be gone.
Joe, and anybody else with abandonment issues, will nearly lose his mind with the anxiety resulting from Anna using time as a weapon. Now, Joe is not innocent here either.
His “go-to” response is to force Anna to discuss the disagreement immediately. He wants Anna to sit and hear him right then.
Emotions are extremely heightened for them both and it’s never a good idea to discuss it right then. So, you see that neither Anna nor Joe is “in the right” here.
So, the solution to that cycle is to have a discussion about finding that good time when there has been no argument. Do it when you are both in a good place before a disagreement occurs.
When you do that, you both know when the conversation will take place after a disagreement and you have time to process and prepare yourself mentally for the discussion.
An example of that is to wait two hours after the disagreement or however long you both feel is appropriate. Also, you need to agree on a location for the conversation.
That prevents anybody from “attacking” the other as soon as the time limit has passed. If you choose your dining room table, then you both know the conversation will not start until you are both sitting at that table.
Now, that step is hard to stick to for most people. Just remember you are trying to improve your lack in communication. There’s nothing easy about that.
Time Limits for Conversations
This goes right into setting a time limit for the conversation. I know that there have been times where I could discuss the issue for hours on end.
That is never healthy and is a sign of toxic communication in relationships. I don’t know your relationship. You and your partner have to determine what time limit is best for you both.
If you don’t set a time limit, the conversation will be too long or too short for one or both of you. When that time limit is up, I recommend you both spend time alone practicing self-care.
If you don’t know what you could do for self-care, please read my post “What is Self-Care.” Taking that time is important as you both need to be able to calm your own minds before starting a conversation.
Physical Connection During Conversations
As for having a physical connection during the conversation, please know this is important. It doesn’t matter what kind of physical connection you have, just have one.
You may prefer to hold hands or just touch your partner’s leg. Having a physical connection with your partner will help you remain grounded and connected to your partner throughout the discussion.
Now, let’s look at allowing your partner to have his or her feelings that he or she names. You may believe there is a different feeling present other than what is named.
It is not your job to challenge the feeling of your partner. He or she might not be ready to acknowledge the feeling he or she is having.
Plus, there’s always the chance that you are wrong. Just know that nobody likes to be told what they are feeling. It will never go well!
Gratitude for Having Conversations
Wrapping up your conversations, again ending when the time limit is reached, is important to do in a healthy way. You want to show gratitude for yourself and your partner for the willingness to have the conversation in a healthy way.
This does NOT mean that you have reached a “middle ground” or that you are at peace with the conversation. It simply means that you can recognize the willingness of you and your partner to improve the lack in communication.
There will be times that you don’t come to a conclusion that both of you like or want. That’s normal and okay.
The purpose of this post is simply to change your belief that you are bad at communication. Instead, you will learn how to change the lack in communication for your relationship.
Don’t rely on your memory with these steps. I promise you will not remember them when you are in the heat of a disagreement.
So, bookmark this post to refer back to when the disagreement arises. It might even be a good idea to print the steps and put them somewhere that is easily accessible like the refrigerator or your bedside table if you don’t want them displayed.
Now that you have read about each of the steps, you need another reminder. These steps will NOT work if both partners are not willing to do the work to improve the lack in communication.
There’s no point in even attempting these steps if both of you are not on board. Hopefully, that’s not the case and you are both willing to do these communication exercises for couples.
Different Life Experiences
There’s another important reminder that you also need. You were both raised in different families. You both have different life experiences and relationship experiences.
Those differences will show up in your relationship. You both have piles of Not Good Enough Stuff, which are those feelings of never being good enough.
It’s important that you are aware of your own Not Good Enough Stuff. You also need an awareness that your partner has also brought his or her own piles of Not Good Enough Stuff to the relationship.
If you’re wondering what I mean about Not Good Enough Stuff, click here to read my post that explains it. Not Good Enough Stuff (“NGES”), shows up in grand ways within relationships whether you acknowledge it or not.
So, you will be ahead of others in relationships if you are aware of your and your partner’s NGES. Compassion and empathy are hugely important in relationships.
If you don’t have those, then you will not have a successful relationship. This is not to say that you or your partner’s NGES can be used as an excuse for the lack in communication.
What I mean is that you can have compassion and empathy for your partner’s lack in communication. That understanding can allow you to see your partner in a more loving light.
Not only that, but it can also give you some compassion and empathy for your own Not Good Enough Stuff. That’s important because it will allow you to see you’re not just bad at communication.
Instead, working on your NGES will show you how you ended up in a relationship that has a lack in communication. If you don’t know where something came from, you can’t heal it.
Don’t Give Up
Hopefully, this post has been helpful for you to improve the lack of communication in your relationship. Just know that relationships are hard and that does not mean you are a failure.
As always, I recommend finding a licensed therapist to help guide you through your healing. I have helped many couples create healthy communication that saved their relationships. So, it can be done!
Share your thoughts or questions with the Not Good Enough Stuff Community by commenting below. If you have any questions or thoughts about these steps, comment and I will respond.
You deserve a relationship with healthy communication. If you and your partner are willing to do the work, you will get there.
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This site is only intended for people who are truly willing to look at themselves with an open mind and have the ability to truly be vulnerable with themselves and others. Please understand that this site is in NO WAY THERAPEUTIC ADVICE. However, this site can be very beneficial in learning the causes of your Not Good Enough Stuff. This site is not intended to provide or replace medical or psychiatric treatment. Mary Beth HIGHLY RECOMMENDS finding a licensed therapist to help you process the information from this site and all that you learn about yourself. Visit Psychology Today to find a licensed therapist in your area.