Hint: It's NOT communication issues.
Despite common perception, lack of communication is not the source cause for marital conflict. It is merely a symptom of a larger issue in struggling relationships.
People can spend years in couples counseling learning how to communicate better with each other. But working on communication issues is an ongoing distraction that keeps people from addressing the core issues that are pushing them apart.
In my opinion and experience, lack of connection is the cause of conflict, not communication issues.
You cannot work on communication and repair a loss of connection. You cannot restore trust and passion by talking about it. Behaviors need to change, not simply words.
Here are seven breakthrough strategies from my book, The 90-Minute Marriage Miracle, that will help rebuild connection and get right to the heart of any relationship challenge:
1. Tell Yourself The Truth
What are you doing that is hurting the relationship? Stop doing anything that is not supportive to building connection. Self-honesty goes a long way here. We have all done things from time to time that have not been helpful to sustaining love and passion.
2. Have A Vision
What do you want your relationship to ultimately look like? How do you want to feel with your partner? It’s important to know what you want because it will keep you focused on your vision instead of getting caught up in the little stressor of the moment. What future are you pursuing together?
3. Fix The Chemistry
The right balance of masculine and feminine created sparks of attraction early on in your relationship. Because people often change behaviors over time due to stress, it impacts the connection. Get back to being the YOU that attracted your partner.
4. Give Attention AND Appreciation
Some things are easy to do, and just as easy not to do. Show your partner more appreciation. Give them your attention when they need it. Give them your reassurance about your commitment, instead of subtle and not so subtle hints of your unhappiness and leaving. Everyone wants and needs appreciation.
5. Don't Push Each Other's Buttons
When couples push each other’s buttons arguments tend to escalate. Maybe you said something, and they responded back with a “tone”, then you got defensive, and said something back. Before you knew it, you were in a real disagreement with hurt feelings. When you remember your Vision, you will access more playfulness, fun, and lightness in any interaction.
6. Let The Emotions Out
Bottled up emotions will come out. Particularly if they have been held back for a period of time. Men and women have very different emotional experiences which affect connection. Have heartfelt understanding for whatever your partner is going through. Tune into what’s really going on without taking it as a personal attack — most of what comes out in emotional storms is not about you, it’s their own stuff.
7. Make The Change Yourself
Who will initiate the improvement of your relationship? Are you waiting for the other person to give because they owe you? If someone doesn’t step forward first and initiate, giving to meet their partner’s needs, then things will never change. Many people wait for the other person to do something to fix the marriage. Nothing will ever change that way.
It’s hard to be truly happy when the relationship part of your life is struggling. Decide today what you want to do about that for yourself. Schedule a confidential conversation to get answers about the core issues that exist in your situation, email email@example.com.