How To Overcome Relationship Problems With Verbal Communication.


This is something which we all fall short of at times, and is one of the biggest issues when it comes to relationship problems, but good verbal communication is the basis of human interaction, and without it we would live in a very confusing world.

There are a few simple rules which couples should follow in communicating that will help in overcoming most relationship problems, which I’ll cover here:

1. Be brief and simple.

It is better to say less in a sentence than more, and then you should leave a gap so that your partner can reply to the point that is being made. Talk about just one of your relationship problems at a time.

If you go on to mention other matters, the first point will be lost, your partner will reply to the last point only, and it is quite likely that the point that is responded to will be a controversial and provocative one, because the partner will only feel forced to respond to something which needs to be contradicted rather than to a peaceful or non-controversial point.

2. Leave frequent gaps.

This gives your partner a chance to respond and comment on what is being said. In some couples it may be that the speaker doesn’t want to hear what the partner has to say:

the monologue is a defensive strategy, but monologues only increase relationship problems – they don’t help anything. Good communication usually includes the possibility of reply.

3. Be positive.

Dealing with most relationship problems can be accomplished by being positive – even if you feel really bad about something.

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There is a world of difference between the statement ‘You are always undermining me’ (negative and critical) and the alternative statement “I would like you to back me up even if you don’t always agree” (a request for help).

The two are referring to the same situation, but the first one invites disagreement or defense and leaves little room for a positive reply, while the second one gives the possibility of complying with the request.

The negative version is probably as valid as the positive one, but the negative one will probably lead to a long argument with no resolution (and even more relationship problems), while the positive version will perhaps lead to some kind of forward movement and eventual resolution.

If you really want to save a relationship, being positive about your issues and your partner is paramount.

4. Always end with a positive, even if you have said something negative.

This avoids what we call the ‘sting in the tail’, where someone has said something positive and then follows it up with something critical – this is not surprisingly very frequent in pretty much all relationship problems.

Taking the ‘sting in the tail’ approach almost always leads to an argument, as your partner replies to the last (negative) part of the message.

The trick is to change the sting-in-tail comment to one that ends positively.

Thus ‘You are making an effort now, but you have been difficult for a long time’ (sting-in-tail) could become ‘You have been difficult for a long time but I see you are now making an effort’ (positive at the end).

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This could be further improved by starting it with ‘I’: ‘I have felt that you were difficult for a long time but I see you are now making an effort.’

5. Be specific.

This means trying not to generalize too much, and keeping the discussion as clear as possible.

Whatever relationship problem you are trying to address, try to describe your feeling as completely as possible – you’re partner probably doesn’t know everything that’s going on in your head, so be descriptive.

There is a great deal of difference between ‘You are always putting me down in front of others’ and ‘I was upset when you criticized my driving when your mother was in the car.’

The first version will lead to contradiction, for example ‘No I don’t, it’s just your imagination’, or ‘What do you mean, I’m very respectful.’

The second at least makes it possible for the partner to address the issue and try to be less outspoken when a similar situation arises.