5 Simple Steps For Effective Communication Every Couple Needs To Know To Stop Arguing

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5 Simple Steps For Effective Communication Every Couple Needs To Know To Stop Arguing
Love

When it comes to arguing in a marriage or relationship, learning better communication skills is the best solution to avoid escalating conflict.

It is very rare that anyone wakes up and says, "I think I'll have a fight with my partner today." These things happen to all couples, right? Well, not exactly.

RELATED: If You Notice These 5 Habits In Your Relationship, Your Communication Skills Need Some Serious Work

Every couple goes through relationship problems, many of which are caused by misunderstandings or a lack of communication.

Don't fall prey to self-fulfilling prophecies.

Over time, past conversations we've had with our partners help us predict how today's particular conversations will go. If your relationship has been rocky and filled with communication breakdowns lately, you might assume that your next interaction will be no different.

The problem is that assumptions become self-fulfilling prophecies — and it's easy to see why.

Open up and embrace vulnerability.

Effective communication in healthy relationships is about opening up and sharing a part of yourself with your partner. When we expose our thoughts and feelings, we can feel exposed or vulnerable.

If I think that I'll just be dismissed or shot down when I open up, I'm certainly not going to bother. Better safe than sorry, right?

But by learning how to improve communication skills in a relationship, you also learn to be vulnerable with your partner — this is how you fix a broken relationship.

Here are 5 simple strategies every couple should learn to stop arguing and improve communication for a healthy relationship.

1. Choose to have a good conversation.

When you make the choice that you do not want to repeat old patterns, how you speak to each other today can be different than it has been in the last few weeks, months, or years.

No one ever wants to admit this, but it starts by acknowledging that no matter how justified you feel in saying what you usually say, you might play a role in how bad your conversations go.

Ask yourself if your partner is so completely unreasonable that they are 100 percent responsible for all of your misunderstandings at all times. Are you completely blameless?

If the answer is "no" — and it almost certainly is — then you can start to see what is within your control to change.

If there is something that the two of you need to discuss, it is important to see that every conversation is a two-person dance.

We all have our own vulnerabilities and sensitivities. By acknowledging your role in where communication goes wrong, you have the opportunity to make it right.

2. Identify your own emotions.

One of the biggest problems in communication is that we are really good at telling other people what is wrong with them and what they have to change.

"You always choose your friends over me!" or, "You never take my side when your mother criticizes me!" are common examples of how we identify and try to change problems — but they rarely work.

No one in the history of this planet has ever responded to either of those statements with, "Really? Me? I do? I had no idea. Thank you very much for pointing that out."

Instead, when a couple argues, the defensive wall goes up and communication shuts down.

Before mentioning what your partner "always" or "never" does, you might want to first ask yourself why it matters.

How does it make you feel when they act that way? Is it anger? Perhaps, but what else? Underneath the fury lies something else; something softer. Disappointment? Frustration?

What about feeling misunderstood or disconnected from your partner? Have you felt unheard or unloved?

These softer emotions are hard to identify and even harder to express because they make us feel vulnerable. But until you know how you feel, it will be hard for you and your partner to have the productive, pleasant conversations you’re meant to have.

3. Speak subjectively.

In order to help us survive in this world, our brains are fantastic at coming up with explanations of why things happen the way that they do. Sometimes that means we make assumptions about what other people are thinking or feeling.

The problem is that even though our brains are great at coming up with explanations, they are horrible at coming up with accurate explanations.

You know that feeling that you get when someone else tells you what you "really" thought or what you "really" meant when you did something? Well, your partner probably feels the same way when you do it, too.

When you're having a difficult conversation, keep the focus on your own subjective thoughts and feelings, especially when speaking about a past event.

When speaking about the past, there is usually your opinion of what happened, your partner's opinion of what happened, and what really happened.

When you share your own experience without it being the only version of the "truth," it helps your partner to stay connected to what you are saying.

RELATED: 8 Ways The Happiest Couples Communicate With Each Other

4. Share the floor.

So, at this point you have chosen to have a good conversation, you have identified your emotions, and tried to express them to your partner. That’s the easy part!

Now it’s your turn to listen — really listen. You have the right to think and feel what you think and feel, but that is just as true for your partner as it is for you!

You can be right or you can be happy, but you can’t always be both. It is just as important now for you to hear your partner’s point of view as it was for your partner to hear yours when you were speaking.

Of course, if all you are hearing is how lazy or irresponsible they think you are, then you might want to share this post.

The bottom line, though, is that if you want to be heard, you will sometimes have to model what it means to be a good listener.

5. Take a break if necessary.

No matter how good your intentions are or how hard you try, there is always the possibility that the conversation might still go off of the rails.

If it does, don’t panic! Undoing these bad habits can take months or years. If you’ve made it this far, you are still doing better than many couples!

When things get heated in a conversation, it becomes difficult for us to think straight. If we feel misunderstood, then our defenses go up and when that happens, the conversation goes nowhere fast.

The best thing that you can do at this point is to call a timeout. For the sake of the relationship, agree to pause the conversation and take some time — at least 20 or 30 minutes — to help get your pulse down to a reasonable speed.

Remember that you are not ignoring the problem, but are just stepping away from it now so that the two of you can have a better chance of understanding each other later.

Then breathe! Slowly! Remind yourself that both you and your partner want to have a good conversation.

Whatever you do, though, do not spend that timeout dwelling on how unreasonable your partner is or how great the situation would be if your opinion could just be taken for fact.

Instead, take the time to check-in and ask yourself what you are feeling and why this conversation matters to you. Write it down!

Now, ask yourself what you think your partner is feeling or why this matters to him or her. It's not that they are being unreasonable or a jerk (or, at least it's not just that).

Underneath it all, you are probably with someone who wants to be understood just as much as you do.

Don’t assume that you are correct in your assumptions. Write your assumptions down as well so that you can ask your partner about them when you come back together.

Learning how to save a marriage from the perils of bad communication can be surprisingly simple with practice.

Considering how important good communication is in our lives, we are notably bad at it. Even most of the masters of relationships aren’t able to identify what they are doing well, and that’s pretty frightening.

However, with the right tools and insight, we can all better understand, be better understood, and have the conversations that we are meant to have.

RELATED: How To Make Even The Most Difficult Conversations With The Person You Love Easier For Both Of You

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Dan Kolubinski is a marriage and couples counselor who offers short-term retreats for couples from all walks of life. For more information on how he can help you improve your connection, visit his website.

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