Communication is an essential component of healthy relationships, but many couples struggle to communicate effectively. Often when emotions are running high, this becomes increasingly difficult to do and many couples report struggling to communicate effectively in their relationship. This can be for a number of reasons including childhood trauma, previous relationship traumas (including betrayals) and never having learned how to regulate emotions when they are hot.
People often are unaware of why they react the way they do in difficult conversations and are unable to ask for their needs to be met in a clear way. What often happen instead is that they get stuck in negative patterns of anger, criticism, indifference or shutting the conversation down. Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFCT) refers to this as the negative cycle. When couples get caught frequently in the negative cycle, they become discouraged about their relationship and feel increasingly disconnected from each other.
Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and even relationship breakdowns. Whether you’re dealing with conflicts, navigating differences, or just trying to connect with your partner, improving your communication skills can help you build stronger, more fulfilling relationships. In this blog, we’ll explore why good communication is important and three strategies for improving communication in relationships, so you can cultivate deeper understanding, trust, and intimacy with your partner.
Good communication is important for several reasons:
Good communication is essential in any type of relationship, including romantic ones. In a romantic relationship, effective communication helps to build trust, increase intimacy, and maintain a strong emotional connection between partners. There is never perfect communication in any relationship, however, it is possible to recognize when you are getting off track in your conversations and take a break, slow down or regulate your own internal state so you can better attune to your partner. In Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy this would be described as negative cycle deescalation or being able to recognize the negative cycle and stop it before it takes over the conversation.
Here are some specific reasons why good communication is so important in a romantic relationship:
1) Builds trust: Communication builds trust between partners. By communicating openly and honestly with each other, partners can build trust and feel secure in their relationship.
2) Helps resolves conflict: Communication helps resolve conflicts in a healthy and constructive way. When partners communicate effectively, they can identify the root cause of conflicts, express their feelings and needs, and work together to find a resolution.
3)Increases intimacy: Communication increases intimacy between partners. When partners communicate openly and honestly, they can share their deepest thoughts, feelings, and desires, which can strengthen their emotional connection and intimacy.
4) Fosters emotional support: Communication fosters emotional support between partners. When partners communicate effectively, they can provide emotional support to each other, which can help them cope with stress and difficult times.
5) Promotes shared goals and values: Communication promotes shared goals and values between partners. When partners communicate openly and honestly, they can share their goals and values, and work together to achieve them.
6) Builds a stronger foundation for the relationship: Communication builds a stronger foundation for the relationship.
By communicating openly and honestly with each other, partners can build a strong and resilient relationship that can weather the ups and downs of life. But this often feels easier said than done.
3 Ways to Improve Communication in Your Relationships
Be Fully Present
Active listening means giving your partner your full attention and really hearing what they are saying. This means putting aside distractions and avoiding interrupting your partner while they speak. Make eye contact and fully listen to what the other person is saying and how they are saying it.
This is important because mirror neurons, which are specialized cells in the brain, are perceiving the expression and engagement of the other person below the level of our conscious awareness.
These neurons are thought to play a role in empathy, social cognition, and imitation. They play a role in understanding and interpreting nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. For example, when one partner in a conversation expresses sadness, the other partner may activate mirror neurons that help them feel and understand the other person’s emotions.This can be helpful in building rapport and trust with the other person.
Overall, the role of mirror neurons in communication is still an area of active research. However, it is clear that these neurons play an important role in understanding and interpreting nonverbal cues, which can be a critical component of effective communication. For this reason, it is very important to be fully present in your conversations.
If you’d like to learn more about mirror neurons Marco Iacoboni, author of the book “Mirroring People” has a very interesting lecture on this topic.
Validation means acknowledging your partner’s feelings, even if you don’t agree with them. This can help your partner feel heard and understood, which can improve communication.
Avoid arguing or debating with the person about their feelings. Instead, focus on understanding their perspective and finding common ground.
Try offering support and encouragement to the person, even if you don’t agree with their perspective. Let them know that you are there for them and that you care about their feelings.
Take Responsibility for Your Feelings and Actions
Taking responsibility for your own feelings can help avoid blaming your partner for how you feel. Share with your partner about the impact of the situation on you and how it is to be in your shoes.
Be open to feedback from the other person, and be willing to listen to their perspective. Accepting feedback can help you understand the impact of your actions and make positive changes in your behavior. Acknowledge your mistakes and express a willingness to make amends.
These are just some of the ways you can improve your communication with others. You may also want to seek the guidance of a couples’ therapist who can offer you even more strategies and a safe space to share your feelings.
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is a form of therapy that focuses on improving emotional connection and communication between couples. It is based on attachment theory, which suggests that humans have a basic need for secure emotional connections with others.
In EFT, the therapist helps couples identify and express their emotions, understand their patterns of interaction, and create new ways of communicating and connecting. EFT has been found to be effective in improving relationship satisfaction, reducing conflict, and promoting emotional connection in couples. It can be helpful for couples who are experiencing a range of difficulties, including communication problems, conflict, infidelity, and other issues.
If you are struggling with communication in your romantic relationship, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Marcy Daniels, MSW, RSW can provide you with the support and guidance you need to improve your communication skills and build a stronger, healthier relationship. Contact her today at 902-702-7722 or visit our website at https://restorecounselling.ca to learn more about our services and how she can help you