Stop Talking About Your Relationship Issues And Do This Instead

Actions always speak louder than words.

unhappy woman pushing man away Bangkok Click Studio / Shutterstock

Many of us have been in a work meeting that went on for way too long. The same people say the same things, over and over again.

The same people complain ad nauseam, using the meeting structure as an opportunity to vent about everything that is wrong with the company, its policies or their co-workers. 

And just when some exasperated soul suggests moving on to solutions, everyone looks at the clock.


"Lunch, anyone?"

The only things accomplished in meetings like this  — which are all talk and no action — are a sense of futility, deep irritation, and a growing dislike of our co-workers. 

The longer it goes on, the less you care about solving problems or improving the workplace. All you care about is getting the hell out of that shrinking, stuffy boardroom and taking a breath of fresh air outside.

Now imagine this scenario involving a husband and wife in a marriage counselor's office.

Just as a boardroom meeting can bore you to tears, repetitive attempts to repair relationship problems can become tedious.


Sometimes, talking just isn't enough.

RELATED: How Does Marriage Counseling Actually Work? 6 Things Couples Needs To Know Before They Go

Talking it through is good, but actions speak louder

While counseling and talk therapy can work wonders for some people, other people who are struggling with relationship issues find them to be ineffective or, worse, damaging.


Too few counselors focus on moving forward toward practical, real-world strategies for couples who are in crisis. 

Instead, some spouses attend weekly visits where they talk about their problems for an hour, digging up the proverbial dead cat and then burying it again until the following week.

Sessions are often filled with anger, finger-pointing, and tears, and couples often fight in the car on the ride home.

All of this makes it impossible for a couple to feel that they will ever be able to bury their problems once and for all.

Infidelity is a classic case.

RELATED: 20 Signs You May Need Marriage Counseling

Small problems can grow into big issues

Adultery is one of the most painful experiences a couple can experience, and it's absolutely essential that spouses begin to take actual steps toward recovery instead of just talking about it. In fact, "actions speak louder than words" is the premise of my book Couples In Crisis: Overcoming Infidelity & Opposite-Sex Friendships.


Yet it isn't just big problems like infidelity that require actions alongside (fewer) words.

Even smaller issues can swell into major ones if we talk about them too much. 

RELATED: 7 Disturbing Signs Your Marriage Needs Professional Counseling

Develop a plan of action

So what's my suggestion? Well, it's impossible to offer a one-size-fits-all solution here. 

What I can suggest, however, is that you honestly reflect upon how often you talk (and talk and talk) about your problems.

Is your approach working?

If not, bite your tongue. Instead, let your actions speak for you.

Focus on improving the quality of your interactions with your spouse. Offer to pour him a cup of morning coffee.


Bring her flowers. Watch a favorite film together. Express your appreciation for everything your spouse does, and praise him or her in front of your children.

Share chores. Try to make your spouse's life easier every day. 

RELATED: 5 Therapy Techniques Proven To Save Any Relationship


Subtle actions, profound effects

When your spouse walks by, offer him or her a warm smile. Prioritize your emotional and sexual intimacy.

Have transparency in your marriage in terms of passwords and access to technology. Put your smartphones in the desk drawer when you get home and connect with your spouse instead of texting your friend. 

And when you do talk, be sure to eliminate that critical tone, contempt, and defensiveness in your voice.

Replace them with a tone of affection, humility, and friendship. 

Of course, relationship problems do have to be discussed. But trust me — if you improve your interactions before you talk about them, you'll spend a lot less time digging up and re-burying cats that should have been laid to rest a long time ago.


RELATED: Experts Share The Most Common Marriage Complaint They Hear From Men In Therapy

Debra Macleod, B.A., J.D. is a relationship coach, author, and marital mediator.