Productive Communication in a Relationship

Posted on May 9, 2012

For many couples, there are times when communication seems extremely risky.  Partners withhold information from one another for fear that their partner will become upset or think badly about the other.  “I’m afraid he’ll think I’m stupid,” or “She’ll just get mad,” are common statements with some couples.  Avoiding conflict keeps the peace in relationship (at least for a while). What most couples don’t know is that keeping the peace and avoiding conflict is the quickest way to a major fight.

So why do couples continue to avoid conflict? 

Maybe when you were growing up, your parents would fight night after night without resolution.  Maybe your parents avoided conflict, maybe you never saw them fight and aren’t sure how to fight with your partner.  Conflict in relationships is scary and might seem easier to avoid it.

So how can we eliminate the risk?

Eliminating the risk of conflict takes time.  I encourage you to begin by telling your partner information that feels safe to you.  Instead of saying “I hate the way you do everything,” tell your partner that you have noticed how differently you do things.  Becoming comfortable with your partner when sharing information is important.  If you feel unsafe, practice what you would like to say in your head before you say it out loud.  Become comfortable with new ways of speaking and thinking on your own, then speak with your partner. Over time, communication with your partner will become easier and less risky.

Conflict does not necessarily mean fighting or yelling but can also be productive communication.  A great way to have a productive conversation with less conflict and tension is to plan the time, place, and subject you would like to talk about. Try establishing a time to talk in the next 24 hours and let your partner know what you would like to talk about.  Setting a specific time to speak with one another eliminates urgency and allows time to process the subject.  Couples often feel less guarded and conflictual when they know they’ll be talking.

If you notice that you are extremely afraid to speak with your partner and have avoided conflict in your relationship for a significant amount of time, I encourage you to seek support from a counselor who specializes in couples.  Many couples have deeply ingrained patterns of communication. Improving communication takes time and investment, but is a great alternative to the end of a relationship due to conflict avoidance.

 

Written by: Kristie L. Watts, LMFTA 

Kristie Watts is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate at Groff and Associates Counseling.  Her passions are parent/child relationships, grief and loss, and pregnancy related struggles.  If you are interested in seeing a counselor and think that Kristie would be a good fit, please contact her at (317) 474-6448 x108 or kristie@groffandassociates.com.

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NzE6Imh0dHA6Ly9ncm9mZmFuZGFzc29jaWF0ZXMuY29tL3dwLWNvbnRlbnQvd29vX3VwbG9hZHMvMy1ncm9mZl9oZWFkZXIucG5nIjt9PC9saT48L3VsPg==