How To Rebound From A Communication Breakdown

3 steps to get your relationship back on track.

How To Rebound From A Communication Breakdown [EXPERT]

Kent and Teresa greet each other with cold stares and only barely speak to each other lately. This communication breakdown in their marriage has been building up for a few months, and it culminated in a huge argument between them over a week ago.

Communication has always been challenging for them when difficult topics arise. Teresa tends to get angry easily. She yells while Kent withdraws into silence or becomes defensive and guarded.


Over the past few months, Teresa has made some discoveries about a few of Kent's habits that upset her. Some of Kent's habits conflict with Teresa's morals. For example, he visits adult porn sites online. They argued about the pornography issue for several days before Kent agreed to stop. However, he only did that to regain some peace. He didn't intend to keep that promise.

When Teresa found out that Kent received a work bonus several weeks ago and didn't tell her about it, she was livid. She feels betrayed and suspicious. Kent doesn't know exactly why he lied about the bonus. Mostly, he didn't want Teresa to run out and spend the extra money before he had time to enjoy this personal accomplishment.


Now, Kent and Teresa are left with a hostile silence between them. Trust has been damaged and neither of them knows how to repair their relationship.

Has something happened to cause a communication breakdown in your love relationship or marriage? Have you struggled, like Kent and Teresa, to create a healthy way to communicate about disagreements or misunderstandings? Or, does one big argument or fight continue to come up, and you can't figure out how to resolve it? No matter what form of communication breakdown you're going through, here are three ways to overcome it:

1. Get clear about what happened and where you stand. This is one of the more challenging steps in getting past the disconnection, but it's essential. Consider the perspective of an observer and get clear about what happened.

Go nag-free this week and check out YourTango's Twitter party on Wednesday, November 14 from 2-4 EST!


More love advice from YourTango:

Take out a piece of paper and write down the things you did that seem to be the most problematic for your partner. And, if you truly remember with accuracy, also record what he/she said and did. Try to boil it down to one question or disagreement. For example, with Kent and Teresa, although they have argued about pornography and money, the issue of trust seems to be the common denominator.

It's also important for you to get clear about your own position on this issue(s). Dig in and discover what are you willing to be flexible about and what are you unwilling to be flexible about? Consider the following: If something is non-negotiable for you, will you stay in this relationship or leave it depending on how it is resolved?

2. Sincerely apologize for your share of the breakdown. As clear as it is to you that this communication breakdown is all (or mostly) your partner's fault, we encourage you to back up for just a moment. We respectfully want to point out to you that there would be no breakdown if you didn't play some role in the conflict.


Take responsibility for your share — no more, no less — in whatever led to the disconnection. This probably means apologizing sincerely and from the heart. When you say you're sorry, mean it and be clear about what you are apologizing or taking responsibility for. Your partner might not be as clear about his or her role in what happened. You could choose to share that you felt sad, afraid, angry, betrayed, lied to — or however you felt. Use an "I feel ..." statement.

Do not take it upon yourself to tell your partner what he or she should apologize for. As difficult as it is to be patient, it will mean more if it truly comes from your partner and is not just him or her parroting back what you want to hear.

3. Propose a possible solution and really listen to your partner's response. Ultimately, one priority for you might be to reconnect and start to repair the damage of the communication breakdown. Another priority is probably to be authentic and stay true to what is important to you.

Keeping in mind both of these priorities, propose a possible solution to the issue that seems to be at the heart of whatever seemed to tear you two apart in the first place. Treat your proposal as a starting-off point for a conversation in which your partner also contributes his/her ideas. Together, create a plan that will help you find a resolution and move closer together again in the process.


Get more communication help in Susie and Otto Collins' free report: "10 Communication Secrets for Creating a Lifetime of Love."