How To Break Through Even The Most Difficult Barriers In Your Relationship

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How To Communicate Better In Relationships
Love

A lack of effective communication skills, especially active listening, is one of the most common and unconscious issues behind suffering in romantic relationships.

It’s also one of the most common reasons why couples breakup or divorce.

Surely, infidelity, money issues and incompatibility are clear competitors when it comes to the main reasons relationships end, but there is typically so much more to the story.

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Take, for example, a married couple I'll call Tim and Suzy.

Tim and Suzy had been through a rough couple of years. The challenges they’d experienced had made them both take a deeper look inside themselves at the roles each played in the failing state of their relationship, leading them to reach out for help.

Suzy had become aware that she wanted to be a more supportive partner to Tim.

Tim needed space to find himself outside of his role as provider, husband and father. At this point, the only way he could think of to do this was by ending the marriage in a loving, supportive way.

Their goals were quite opposite — Tim wanted to leave, Suzy wanted to stay — yet both wanted the outcome to be harmonious for the whole family.

As they sat in my office, Tim's face changed and tightened. I'd notice his eyes rolling when Suzy tried to make him see her point of view.

Suzy, in the meantime, kept repeating herself, as if Tim didn’t hear her well enough to get it on the first round.

I brought Tim’s attention to his tightening face and rolling eyes, saying, “Let’s slow it down so you can feel what just happened.”

Tim was so used to not being heard that he wasn't aware of how deeply it has impacted him. His body, however, knew instantly.

His body spoke loud and clear on his behalf: his eyes rolled, his jaw tightened, his breathing grew shallow and his torso turned slightly away.

Suzy, on the other hand, felt the impact of Tim’s body language. Unconsciously, she kept repeating the same point over and over, thinking to herself, “Maybe if I say it one more time in a different way, he’ll hear me.”

He never did. It only made him roll his eyes once again, searching for a way out.

This pattern of his nonverbal communication was staring at me, begging to be seen.

I saw it loud and clear, and I also saw that neither Tim nor Suzy knew what was going on between them.

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I see this kind of unhealthy communication pattern between partners all the time.

Tim and Suzy are a perfect example of what lack of good communication does. It creates tension, arguments and misunderstandings, but never brings about a satisfying solution.

How can you improve communication skills in your relationships?

Good communication actually starts with yourself.

You need to become a good listener to your own needs and wants first, then learn to communicate them to your partner.

Of course, it feels vulnerable to expose your deeper needs, because you may not get them met. But since we mainly communicate through our body language anyway, and often with little success, why not try a new approach that could actually work?

It simply starts by listening to your own body before you suppress, ignore or resist whatever it is trying to tell you.

Hoping your partner will guess what you need doesn’t work.

When you learn a new language through listening to yourself, a door opens for new possibilities to appear.

After making sure Tim had enough time to understand what his body was trying to tell him and interpret those into feelings and words, he said, “I don’t feel I’ve ever really been heard by her.”

Bingo!

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How many of us feel that we are never really heard by our partner in a way that allows us to relax and know they got it?

When you finally feel heard, there’s no need to roll your eyes, turn away or repeat yourself.

So, let’s go back to Suzy, who has a tendency to repeat herself without leaving space for Tim to feel and find the words with which to respond.

He wants to do so, but hadn’t learned to let Suzy know he needs time to respond to her requests. In his despair, he would just rolls his eyes, so guess what? Suzy didn't feel heard either.

The $1,000.000 question is this: What is it that you want your partner to see, hear, or get about you?

The need to be seen, heard and understood is so deep for most of us that we simply cannot be there for our partner unless it is met. This, of course, goes both ways.

You must start by listening to yourself in order to know what kind of reassurance you need in order to relax and feel OK about yourself.

Please don’t expect your partner to give you what you want or demand until you know what it is and can communicate it to them.

To begin, take a moment and feel into what it is that you want from your partner that upsets you when you don’t get it.

And please know that there is nothing wrong with wanting something from your partner, as long as you know what it is and know how to communicate it.

When you do know what that is, two things might happen:

  • Your partner won't give it to you, or won't be capable of doing so. In this case, there is more to explore.
  • Your partner will become aware of what deeply matters to you, and because you ask for it rather than demand it of them, will do their best to nurture you in that way.

RELATED: Why Getting Your Needs Met In A Relationship Is So Important (And 3 Ways To Make It Happen!)

Breaking this all down, there are two steps to take in order to begin communicating more effectively in your relationship:

  1. Learn how to listen to your own needs first, knowing it's OK to have them. This opens a door through which you can start receiving what it is you want.
  2. Express that to your partner in a sincere non-demanding way.

When you take these two steps, you can create solid communication in your relationship, which in turn builds trust and intimacy in a deeply satisfying way.

When Suzy became aware that she was not listening to Tim even though she thought she was, Tim’s face completely changed, and not with rolling eyes this time.

Rather, I glimpsed a few tears in his eyes.

He finally felt heard, as it was clear to him that Suzy was willing to listen to him and take an active role in continuing to get better at it.

And once Suzy listened to what she herself needed and learned how to express it only once, Tim heard her too.

His eyes and heart opened up to her, allowing her to relax and release the need to repeat herself.

Yes, I saw some tears in Suzy’s eyes too.

And they were tears of relief for both.

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Pernilla Lillarose is a self-love mystic and mentor at Divine Feminine Flow, who helps women experience more love, peace, and joy in their lives. Feel free to contact her for a free 30-minute Discovery Session to learn how true self-love can turn your whole life around.

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