Does your communication destroy your relationships?

By David Joel Miller.

How you talk to each other matters.

Old phone

Bad Communication.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Faulty communication is a major relationship destroyer.  Unfortunately, many people try to use communication like a magic wand to get them what they want.  Couples often come into relationship counseling and describe their problems as poor communication.  What they often mean is that one of them is not getting what they want.  Getting what you want as in getting your needs met involves being persuasive, assertive or learning negotiating skills.

Good relationship communication is about growing and developing relationships.  The way in which you talk and listen to other people either builds positive relationships or destroys the ones you have. Be careful that the way you’re communicating is not sabotaging your relationships.  Avoid using the following communication tools if you want to maintain positive relationships.

Stonewalling prevents closeness.

Stonewall it is the art of not communicating.  People use this technique often give others the cold shoulder.  It’s almost impossible for humans to interact without communicating something.  Giving someone the silent treatment neither improves that relationship nor the communication.

Blaming weakens your connection.

Blaming is one of the ways of communicating their results in a relationship where one person is above the other.  Think about what it looks like when a parent is scolding a child.  Often this is accompanied by finger-pointing and yelling.  When adults resort to this method to communicate with other adults the effort to blame and shame the other person damages the relationship between them.

Placating reduces communication.

Placating is the way a little child might talk to an angry parent. You would hear them say, yes mommy; I’m so sorry mommy.  Among adults placating takes the form of saying you will do things but never doing them.

Passive-aggressive behavior builds hostility.

The passive aggressive of the world spend their lives slamming doors and muttering under their breath.  Rather than directly expressing their displeasure in an adult way they go to great lengths to display their anger.  Seething with anger that they go out of their way to get even.

Saying you’re not OK harms your relationship.

Couples, where one person is constantly telling the other partner they are defective, are headed for disaster. No one likes to repeatedly hear that they are not okay. Constantly criticizing your partner for who they are, conveys the message that you don’t think they are capable of change. If you find yourself telling your partner that they are not okay, you need to ask yourself why you picked this partner in the first place. If your partner is struggling with and emotional problem or an addiction, encourage them to seek help. You also need to be willing to look at the ways in which you are contributing to this problem.

Saying I know better damages relationships.

They are your partner, not your child. Relationships, good ones, should be partnerships, not parent-child relationships. Successful relationships require listening to the other person’s point even when you don’t agree. Trying to act like your partner’s parent curtails communication and makes for an unhappy relationship.

Telling them having a child will fix your relationship.

Many troubled relationships make the mistake of believing that they just have a child everything will turn out okay. Having a child while in a shaky relationship can be catastrophic. You can break up with a partner, but you will forever be in a relationship with your child’s parent. Both pregnancy and the early years raising an infant can be extremely stressful. Don’t try to make your child the adult in the family.

Avoid quoting what your family and friends say.

A piece of fruit with a hole in the skin starts to rot. A cell with a broken membrane soon dies. Your relationship needs good boundaries, and you need to keep family and friends out of your disagreements. Resolving conflicts is not about proving who is right. Learn to discuss and resolve problems between the two of you. Stop quoting others who agree with you.

 

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Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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11 tips for more marriage miles.

By David Joel Miller.

Ways to get more mileage out of the marriage you have.

Marriage Millage

Marriage Mileage
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Marriage seems to be an endangered institution these days. Fewer people getting married and more divorces, people appear to be trading in their spouses faster than they are trading in their car. What we often find, with cars and with partners, is that there is a reason someone else is trying to trade theirs in.

Before you scrap your marriage and go shopping for a new relationship consider that whatever relationship you are in may be in need of a little refurbishing. Marriages need maintenance just like houses and cars. You may need to see a professional from time to time. That is what marriage counselors are for, but there are lots of things you can do on a daily basis to maintain that relationship before it falls apart.

Consider doing some of these activates frequently if you want your relationship to last.

1. Make couples maintenance a priority.

You’re in a relationship, you think you are past the hard part. Now that you have a partner you can focus on becoming a success in life. Not so fast.

Jobs will come and go. Life has its ups and downs regardless of the partner you are with. You may move around or change jobs. Your kids will grow up and launch out on their own. In all that living will you stay connected to your partner?

Put time spent maintaining that relationship in your schedule. Money may come and go but you only get so much life. Invest some of that time in maintaining your relationship. Otherwise, you will wake up one day and not know who this person you are living with has become.

2. Add more kind words to your relationship.

Families who are happy make kind words a staple in their emotional diet. There are plenty of times that people disagree and there will be arguments, but make an effort to say nice things to your partner.

If someone only hears about the things their partner does not like, but never hears that they are valued, they develop the belief that their partner does not see anything good in them or the relationship. For a long-lasting relationship say nice things to each other more often.

3. Touch is a two-way street.

Touch builds bonds. In early courtship couples hold hands, they snuggle and want of be close. Touch needs to be in the relationship for more than just the mechanical part of sex. Sex is good, it builds the couple relationship, but sex alone will not be enough.

Make sure you are including some hand holding, some gentle touching, and an occasional back rub or massage for a well-functioning relationship.

4. Talk more for more marriage mileage.

Humans use words for a lot more than conveying information. We think in words and we use them to express feelings. If you really want to understand your partner and to be understood, talk more. Talk not to convince them or to win the argument but to learn about each other.

Couples in the dating period do lots of talking, then they get together and there is progressively less time for talking. Life happens, the job, the kids. Over time people change. Make sure that you spend some time just talking if you want to know your partner. Otherwise one day you will wake up and discover that the two of you no longer know who this person is that you are living with.

5. Have new experiences together.

Far too many families discover when it is too late that the things of life do not make you happy. Yes, a new car or video game are enjoyable for a while but eventually, they wear out and get discarded. What you have after the things are gone are the memories.

Make memories together. You will need those good time feelings in the emotional bank when the trials of life arrive.

6. Problem solve. Use disagreements to brainstorm new solutions.

The easy solution to life’s problems is to fight for what you think you want or need. Do not blame your partner for the problems and make it all their fault. You are in this partnership together. Avoid win-lose solutions and spend some time looking for options that allow both of you to get your needs met.

Do not fall into the trap of trying to control the situation and your partner. When times are tough winning the argument can cost you the relationship.

7. Have something to look forward to.

Life should not be all grind. Have hopes and dreams and work towards them. Make sure you do not get so wound up in the work of living that you do not see the rewards down the line.

8. Do unexpected nice things.

One large meal will not fill you up for a month. Do not expect that an occasional nice thing for your partner should make them feel loved and satisfied.

In your love menu include small unexpected treats and you will maximize positive relationships.

9. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Learn to laugh at your mistakes.

Trying to be perfect can leave you perfectly alone. The perfect person is very difficult to live with. Take the pressure off you and your relationship. Learn to admit when you are wrong about something and try to fix it.

Being able to laugh at yourself is a very helpful ability. We all do silly things at times. Recognize when you do those things and do not keep trying to explain why you did that or why it is not your fault.

10. Create new together activities and interests.

Couples, like individuals, need to grow. Grow together or grow apart. It is healthy for there to be interests that your partner does not particularly share. Talk about those interests some of the time. But also make it a priority to do new things together and develop new interests. This keeps the relationship alive and growing.

11. Put more kisses on your to-do list.

Happy long-term couples kiss more. These frequent kisses are not reserved for the start of sex but are liberally sprinkled throughout the life together. Make sure that there are quiet together times for these affection gestures. While your partner is struggling with a misbehaving child or an overflowing washer may not be the best time. But sometimes those are exactly the time to stop the flow of things and interject an “I love you” and a kiss.

Those are some of my suggestions for things you might want to do to keep your relationship in top condition. Have you found any other maintenance techniques that make your relationship run better?

For more on this topic take a look at these other posts on counselorssoapbox.com

Relationships

Love, Romance, and Sex

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

8 Ways to improve your couple’s communication.

By David Joel Miller

Improving couples communication takes time and practice.

Couple Communicating

Couple Communicating
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Problems communicating is a common complaint in distressed couples. To improve communication between you and your partner will involve a lot more than simply spending more time talking with each other. If your communication is conveying the wrong message more of the same is only rehearsing the problem.

Here are 8 tips to see that your communication with your partner takes you in the direction you want to go.

1. Develop a “fund” of positive feelings in your relationship.

If all you ever hear from an important person in your life is negativity, you stop listening. Your relationship needs to include lots of positive communication with your partner when times are good.

Create happy interactions as frequently as possible to carry you through the times of conflict. If the only time you communicate with your partner is when you “need to talk” talking becomes painful and eventually stops.

It only takes a few angry hurtful statements to wash away the love in a relationship. Make sure you have communicated the positive messages frequently so that they do not get lost during the conflicts.

2. Discover ways to make your partner feel loved.

Communication can’t be restricted to the verbal channel. What your partner sees you doing and how you act carries a lot of the communication burden. Some people feel really loved when they receive gifts. But if you work all the time to pay for presents, your lack of presence in the relationship can damage your ability to communicate.

3. Ask for what you need.

If your relationship is not meeting your needs, consider that it may be because you are not asking to have your needs met.

Far too many people believe that their partner should know what they need and provide it without them asking. Unfortunately, we often have difficulty figuring out what we need and want, let alone know how to meet our partner’s needs.

Very few people are successful at reading their partner’s mind. Thinking that your partner should have that ability if they really love you will result in poor communication.

4. Fight fair – do not criticize your partner.

Many couples use a scorched earth approach to their disagreements. When there are conflicts limit your communication to the topic at hand.

The goal should be to resolve the disagreement not to see how much damage you can inflict on your partner. Keep your comments to the behaviors you want the partner to change not global descriptions of their character.

Saying that you feel more loved when he cleans up after himself can be helpful. Telling him he is a pig, was raised in a barn and his mother is the biggest sow around, are all the sort of personal attacks that will cut off communication.

If you try to destroy your partner during conflicts, your relationship, along with your couple’s communication will be collateral damage.

5. Look for win-win solutions to improve communication.

Winning arguments at the cost of your partner losing results in an impoverished relationship. Work on finding ways you both can get your needs met in the relationship rather than keeping score on who is winning the most.

Listening to really understand your partner’s wants and needs will improve communication. Finding solutions to disagreements where you both win will make your relationship a winner.

6. Make “I” statements to improve communications.

To improve communication talk about how you feel.  Rather than saying that your partner “makes you feel -” Let them know that you feel sad, hurt etc. when they do a particular action.

Own your feelings and your partner will learn how you are feeling. More understanding is the road to empathy. More criticism and blame will not improve your couple’s communication.

7. Avoid going for the jugular when you two disagree.

When conflicts grow heated and intense the temptation is to say and do the thing that will hurt your partner the most. It may feel good at the moment to get even and inflict some pain on your partner but over the long run, the thing that gets destroyed is your relationship.

8. Pick a good time for important communications.

When you partner is running late for work is not the time to start a serious conversation. Just before lovemaking is not the time to bring up your complaint about their behavior. When people are under stress, are sad, depressed, hungry or feeling other intense emotions they will find it hard to consider their partner’s point of view.

Pick a time when you two can have a leisurely conversation to work on areas that require deep communication.

If you discover that your joint life is always full of hurry and conflict? What then? Do you just keep putting off that communication? You shouldn’t. Many relationship failures are the result of conversations that couples should have had but never got around to.

Set a time and stick to it. This joint problem solving to set that time to discuss couples communication may be just the impetus to get your communication back on track.

If you have been trying to get your couples communication on track but it does not appear to be getting better consider seeing a professional relationship counselor. Seeing a couples counselor does not mean your relationship is over. It may be just the thing you need to repair the breaches.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books.

Now is always the time to improve your couples communication.