Key #4: Communication is Key, So Dial Up the Dialogue

Unfortunately, many couples see disagreements or conflict as a sign that the relationship is not strong or not meant to be. They’ve gotten the idea from movies or society that the perfect couple doesn’t have disagreements. 

Do not fall for this fantasy.

We’ve worked with countless couples over the years and can say with absolute certainty that every couple disagrees some of the time. You will argue. You will fight. You will have conflict. It’s inevitable!

How you handle those disagreements will determine the strength of your relationship. 

So, take some time with your partner to assess how you address conflict, how your communication could be helping or hurting your relationship, and how you can move forward with tools and practices that strengthen your foundation.

Assess Poor Communication Practices 

We have all been guilty of these poor communication practices at one time or another: 

  • Criticism
  • Blame
  • Interrupting
  • Complaining
  • Stonewalling
  • Avoidance
  • Case Building
  • Demands
  • Contempt
  • Sarcasm

Take some time to reflect on the last time you and your partner had a conflict. Did you use any of these to try and communicate your thoughts? It probably didn’t help your case. 

In our last blog post, we discussed how top relationship therapists believe that this type of negativity is simply a cry for the things we want. Avoidance may be used to combat feelings of being isolated in your relationship and needing intimacy. Criticism may be used to communicate fears – when what you really need is a hug and reassurance. 

As you assess your communication, dig deep into what it is that you really want to achieve. Sure, this requires vulnerability and being very honest with yourself. But if you can communicate these honest truths, you are more likely to get what you need from your partner. 

The First Step 

How can you properly communicate your feelings to your partner without coming off as defensive or negative? 

Here’s a little formula to help you get started:

“When you _____________(state your experience), I felt ____________.”

Negative communication practices often shut your partner out and leave them in the cold. In contrast, this formula opens up the door and allows your partner to come into your world.

Start to implement this warmer, more loving phrase into your communication. From here, your partner can properly address your feelings and lean into you, rather than pushing away and feeling defensive. 

Want to gather more tools in your communication toolbox? Our award-winning book can help you get there. Buy your copy today.