Red flags: You might not be communicating properly.
We all know that one of the major keys to a healthy relationship is communication. But, it’s one of the most common issues couples face. Here are six ways you or your partner may not be communicating in a productive way that’s healthy for your relationship.
1. You or your spouse never own up to a mistake.
It’s important to take responsibility for messing up. We all make mistakes. You might have forgotten your anniversary, showed up late for a special event, or said something harsh when you were stressed out about something that happened at work. Whatever it may be, instead of playing defense or making excuses, just apologize. If you or your spouse rarely own up to making a mistake, chances are you or your spouse are playing the blame game constantly.
2. “Sorry” only comes after being exhausted from fighting.
Saying sorry only works if you truly mean it. But some get in the habit of saying sorry just to end an argument. It can be exhausting going on and on over details and debating a particular disagreement. It’s natural to want to take a breather. Instead of offering an insincere apology, take a break, cool down and work it out when you both have had time to think things through.
3. You keep fighting over the same issues.
It’s common for couples to have reoccurring fights over similar situations, after all, some problems cannot be solved so easily. But if you’re fighting over the same things for years on end, communication is the likely issue. Most couples get into a habit of fighting to win instead of discussing a problem and working to find a realistic solution. Instead of looking at a fight as a battle, look at it as an issue you both need to overcome and resolve together. Remember, the problem isn’t yours or theirs, it’s a shared problem and you need to work it out together. If you both cannot agree on a solution, you may need to seek outside help. For instance if you’re arguing over money, agree to visit an accountant together or to take a course on budgeting. Whenever you seek help or advice from an outside source, be sure that it is neutral and fair. Try counseling, your church, or a trusted friend.
4. A simple decision becomes a heated debate.
Whether your trying to decide on your next vacation together or what to do with extra money you both have saved, a simple decision shouldn’t turn into a huge blowout. If you and your spouse argue over happy decisions or relatively simple ones, you or your spouse may be holding on to grudges from past arguments. These small arguments may stem from bigger issues that have gone unresolved. Avoiding a problem will only make matters worse, so don’t leave problems to solve themselves. Ignoring a major issue will not lead to it working itself out. If every conversation seems to become an argument, seek professional help.
5. You both say “never mind” often.
Have you ever wanted to tell your spouse something but instead you brushed it off or changed your mind? If talking to your spouse feels more like a chore or you feel as though a fight will likely ensue, you may avoid certain conversations with out even realizing it. You may not tell your spouse every single detail of your day, but if you’re staying quiet in order to prevent an argument or avoiding certain subjects this is a sign that talking has become too difficult in your relationship. You might want to rethink the way you’re communicating. For instance you and your spouse should avoid using language or words that are insulting. Don’t use abusive terms. You and your spouse should feel safe to discuss an issue or express their opinion. Avoid placing blame on just your partner. For instance if your spouse has forgotten to drop off the mail at the post office again, instead of saying “You are an idiot, you forgot to take the mail to to post office again!” say “Should we trying online banking so that we don’t have to worry about going to the post office anymore? The bills might be late this month because we’ve been so busy.” I’m not saying lie or coddle your spouse, but ask yourself, is yelling or belittling them really going to get the results you want? Sometimes knowing that things can get out of control leads to us avoiding conversations altogether, which solves nothing. If you’re avoiding conversations because your spouse makes you feel unsafe, seek help immediately. It’s not normal to feel scared or worried that an argument may get out of control.
6. You only have in depth conversations when something is wrong.
Communicating daily is important. Regular check-ins and updates keep an open line of communication. Saving most of your thoughts or problems for one big blowout will cause verbal diarrhea where you just unload everything you’ve been keeping to yourself. It’s hard to work on an issue when they’re all on the table at once. When ten issues are brought forth at one time, solutions are rarely made and instead couples tend to go back and forth, constantly adding on more and more layers to what seemed like a relatively simple disagreement. Try to talk things out before they snowball and as they occur.
(All images courtesy of Giphy.com)