How to Talk About Relationship Problems: 4 Keys to Communication

Have you noticed how unrealistically communication between loved ones is portrayed in movies and TV series? There, lovers either quarrel so that the windows fly out, or “understand” each other without words, gently holding hands to romantic music. But when it comes to real relationship problems, the effectiveness of both melodramatic ways is questionable. So how do you talk to your partner so that you can hear, be heard, and finally pump up mutual understanding?

Sometimes, life in a couple needs you to take even more serious actions: dealing with your loved one’s addiction, having therapy sessions, going to rehab for couples together. In this case, we recommend you to talk to the specialists or look for couples rehab near me as additional help.

There are some psychological keys that would help them build more effective communication with a partner. Communication on equal terms, without fears, shortcomings, and resentment.

The first key is a “sustained pause”.

The best thing to do when emotions overwhelm and conflict seems inevitable is to pause. When anger or despair blind you, it is difficult, but it is necessary to save yourself from decisions and words on emotions that are usually regretted. The knowledge that we always have the opportunity to stop, calm down and choose the best behavior in conflict has saved many relationships.

It’s easy to pause. It is enough to tell the partner politely, calmly, and from yourself:

“I’m very upset right now, so let’s move on later when I’m ready.”

“We need a break because now we do not agree, but insult each other.”

But it is much more difficult to realize the need to pause and catch yourself by the hand before throwing a bunch of insults to your partner. Strong emotions, rudeness generated by them, of course, interfere with understanding, but not only this is the cause of problems in communication. That’s why you need the following key.

The second key is “Honest self-reflection”.

The power of the pause is that it gives you time to think. And these reflections are needed to understand what we really want from a partner, this relationship and conversation. When there is no such understanding, there are claims like “I’m sick, do something.” But what can a partner do if we do not understand what will bring relief? Therefore, before going into the conflict, we recommend looking deeper into the problem or situation through the prism of your needs and desires. To do this, you can answer the questions:

“Why am I upset?”

“What is my need now not being met?”

“What do I think of myself and my relationship when this happens to us?”

“What kind of relationship do I want with my boyfriend?”

“What solution will be best for me and how best to talk about it with a partner?”

This self-reflection allows you to look inside, better understand yourself and, as a bonus, prepares you for a conversation. Those who find it difficult to talk about problems can use recordings from reflections such as the “cheat sheet”. It may help to keep quiet about what is important to you once again. And only when there is an understanding of “what” to say, the question arises “how”. Here we need the following key.

The third key is “I-message”.

“I am a message” is a well-known way of effective communication. The idea is to talk about yourself with a simple formula: “I…, + when you….”.

“I get angry when you forget my requests”;

“I am a sentence” is needed not so much to soften the dialogue, but to not feel like a victim. And unlike “You are a sentence”, it gives the opportunity to be truly heard.

“You” – the message: “You make me unhappy”

When we say so, it is as if we are giving others control over our own happiness and shifting responsibility. Victims do just that.

“I” – message: “I feel unhappy when you do not go to dialogue”

And this is the statement of a person who is turned to themselves, his feelings and speaks of the violation of their boundaries. Confident and specific.

“I-message” cannot be denied, because that is how we talk about our thoughts and feelings. Thus, this form of expression does not force the partner to defend themselves from us, but thanks to the magic “when” allows you to focus on a specific problem. “I am a sentence” is an incredible tool for reaching an understanding. But this is not enough if the partner “does not hear” or “does not come into contact”.

The fourth key is “Understanding Listening”.

For many of us, communication comes down to what we just have to say. But in a close relationship, it is important to listen. Attentive, compassionate and curious. Listen, in order to understand. The great art of listening cannot be described in a few paragraphs. Most of us are used to thinking and interpreting what our partner says. And I sincerely encourage you to learn to listen. And you can start with very simple things:

 – Be willing to listen to your partner. Non-verbally, this readiness can be manifested in an open posture, tilted head and sincere curiosity in the eyes. Verbally, we can invite a partner to a dialogue, saying, “I’m really interested to know what you think about this.”

 – Do not interrupt.

 – Clarify with questions if something remains unclear.

 – Thank you for your sincerity.

 – Under no circumstances force your partner to speak when he/she is not ready.

 – Try to listen to your partner from their position, as if “being in their shoes”. There is even such a psychological trick. When lovers quarrel and realize that they can’t understand each other, they can try to “switch roles” and speak as if for a partner, to defend the opposite position. This is a powerful technique because it makes us feel that the other person also has their desires and can express them for themselves, not against us. Being in the role of another, we begin to understand his desires and motivations. And we have the opportunity to look at our requirements and desires from the outside.

This key is extremely important if your partner has serious problems, like alcohol or drug addiction. According to the specialists from ​​couples rehab, if your partner tells you about such a problem, the worst thing would be to judge them. Use the fourth key in communication, offer help from you or rehab for couples, try to find a solution together, or even start treatment as a couple — in a couples drug rehab. 

Knowing these keys, always keep in mind that the main key is always communication.