Coupledom is hard. Long term, short term, casual or official it is difficult to communicate effectively. What would you say the biggest pitfalls to communication are? Misunderstanding? Aggressive tone? Reading between the lines? Dismissing communication? OR not engaging in conversation maybe? I see all of these all the time. They are all common and equally harmful techniques in communication in couple and relationships that don’t work .And while as a self-proclaimed introvert, I won’t suggest you need to sit down and communicate for long periods of time each day, I will suggest that effective, quality communication is much more than just words.
Nonverbal communication can be just as effective, and sometimes much more powerful than verbal communication. Think back to when you and your partner(s) began dating. How much of what you felt was based on the little signs or cues you got? The slight touch of a hand, the body language, or eye contact? This is a good demonstration on how nonverbal communication can work just as well as talking it through. The key here is the find what works, and how to best understand your partners nonverbal cues.
Quality over quantity any day of the week. We really don’t have time to talk most days. And for many, we just don’t have the desire. But we can have small snip its of great communication that will last us all week if we are present for communication. Be sure to stop what you are doing, make eye contact, and engage by touching each other’s hands. This allows both the speaker and the listener to know you are both present and can increase quality communication.
It’s so important to know when to stop. Seriously. This is probably one of the biggest challenges I see in couples counseling. One partner wants to continue to engage in conversation, and the other is completely over it. Regardless of if it’s in conflict or day to day communication, it is so important to know when enough is enough, and respect our partners wishes or needs. Not quitting while ahead can lead to relationship burnout, stress, increased conflict and resentment. Set a clear boundary when you need a communication break, and take it. I promise, your relationship will thank you for it!
As relationships change, so will communication. What works, what doesn’t, how we connect and what we need. Keep an eye on these shifts, and manage them as they come. Avoiding communication, feelings resentful and not talking about it, and constant frustration is a sign that perhaps it’s time to engage in couples counseling.