One of the biggest complaints I hear from couples is "we don't communicate well." Communication dynamics are more complicated than they seem and tend to become cyclical representations of reactions to one another. Falling into cycle of poor communication with your partner can feel exhausting and leave people questioning the entire relationship. Here are three tips to spark communication in your relationships...
Weekly Check Ins. A lot of therapists recommend a weekly "State of the Union" where you and your partner meet to discuss plans for the week, take an emotional temperature and express gratitude to each other. A friend of mine recently described a couple that she knows that takes this to the next level by creating quarterly powerpoints to show what each person is doing in the relationship, for the team or for the family. The point of this exercise is not to make one person feel bad for doing less, but to allow space for appreciation if one person is currently taking on the brunt of household duties. Checking in on how each person is feeling and what can be done to support each other further this exercise in connection.
These "State of the Unions" can be scheduled for fifteen minutes a week, at the same time - like you would prioritize and schedule a work meeting. This time is dedicated to opening up lines of communication and supporting each other.
Uncover the Patterns. What usually happens in an argument? Does your partner leave something for you to clean up and you seethe in anger before snapping at them about something irrelevant? Recognizing how arguments generally start, who digs in, who withdraws and what your patterns are around communication cycles is a helpful place to start identifying unhealthy patterns and making a change.
Express gratitude /appreciation (again.) What have you noticed that your spouse has been doing good? Some couples report having trouble coming up with something - in that case, look hard! Positive reinforcement works and sometimes just starting a conversation with a "Thank You" has enough power to change the mood of the whole house.
No matter what you do - do something. No change in these patterns tends to lead to low relationship satisfaction, disconnection and potentially can end the relationship. Opening up lines of communication is imperative to a healthy relationship.