Silence is Killing Your Relationship

Silence is Killing Your Relationship

By Madelyn Collins

Pursuing a journalism and electronic media major at the University of Tennessee. Teach and perform dance on the side as a living.

Many experts say miscommunication is the number one reason relationships fail. Learn how to talk with your partner before you call it quits.

Cheating. Lying. Incompatibility. Many think these are the main reasons for a sour relationship. However a study reported by the Huffington Post said health professionals found a lack of communication as the number one reason couples are breaking up. Barton Goldsmith, PhD, psychotherapist, and author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time” states communication as the most important part of a relationship. He makes it clear a relationship “cannot thrive or even survive without good communication.” Here are a few of Goldsmith's advice for couples lost in communication.

Mind Reader

Your partner cannot read your mind. A person can use as much body language and hints as they want but direct conversation is just more effective. Goldsmith affirms, “You must be able to say what's going on for you in a way that your partner will understand.” Next time there is a rift in you and partner’s relationship, try these steps to solve the problem.

1. Ask

If you think something is up with your other half don't ignore it! First tell your partner you notice they seem upset. Next, ask would they like to talk.

Example: “Hey, I feel like you're upset. Do you need to talk?”

If the answer is no, accept it. Respect their refusal and tell them you will be there when they are ready to talk.

Example: “Okay, I understand. Whenever you're ready I will be here to listen.” 

Vice Versa….

You give hints something is bothering you, but your partner does nothing. Remain calm! Remember no one can read minds. If they fail to start a conversation go initiate it yourself. First, let your partner know something is bothering you. Once they know ask if you both could talk.

Example: “Hey, something is bothering me. Is right now a good time to talk?”

Be respectful if the response is no. Wait for a better opportunity to have the conversation and ask your partner again.

Example: “Okay, I understand. I will ask at a better time for both of us.”

2. Listen and Speak

The next important step is to listen. Avoid distraction when your partner is talking. Turn off your phone and turn off anything that might be playing on TV. Give them your undivided attention. Respond to every point they make in a respectful manner.

When it is time for your partner to listen and for you to talk make sure you say your words carefully. Plan your sentences. Make your problems clear so your partner can understand. The less complicated you make your points the easier it will be to communicate. Try to avoid going off subject or calling your partner names. Hurting them is counterproductive.

3. Continue until solved

If the problem is unfixed keep trying. Talk until both sides feel comfortable.  

Example: “I still feel like this has not been fixed. Let's talk about this some more tomorrow so we can both feel good about it.”

Go at it every day if you have to. When you feel better make sure to tell your partner the good news! Remember no one can read minds so make sure everything is clear. Thank your partner for working with you so they will continue to do so in the future.

Example: “Everything is okay now. Thank you for talking about this with me.”


The right things to say

There is no point in talking if it causes trouble. Goldsmith tells couples to learn how to ask “clarifying questions”.  Steer clear of surface questions. Dig deep into you and your partner’s problems. When you ask meaningful and caring questions there will be meaningful and caring solutions.

Avoid saying: “What's wrong?”

This question can come off as aloof. Do you mean what's wrong with you, what's wrong with your friend, or what's wrong with the world? Make your question personal. It is not an obligation. They want to know you care!

Say: “It seems like something is bothering you. Do you need to talk?”

This is a better way to start a conversation. It shows you are addressing them and you care. Adding the invitation to talk at the end continues to show your willingness to help.

Another phrase to avoid: “What do you want me to do?”

When your partner tells you a problem they should not be the one to give a solution. They are seeking for you to help. Think of a way you might be able to help and then ask your partner with your solution. This will show you are listening and making an effort to contribute!  

For example, your partner wants to spend more time with you. Try asking: “Would you like to go hiking tomorrow just you and me?”

This question shows your partner you care and want to solve the issue. A getaway to a hiking trail might be the thing your partner needs to reconnect with you. 


Just talk

These tips mean nothing if you and your partner are quiet. Goldsmith states, “When there is silence in a relationship, it is not necessarily golden.” Lack of communication leads to disconnection and desertion. Keep your communication constant. Text your partner when they are away. Put effort into the text. Sending a few heart emojis is not enough. Ask how their day is going or tell them you are thinking about them. These little conversations can mean the world to your relationship.

Refrain from putting conversation on hold with your partner. Saving a relationship can be as simple as saying, “Can we talk?”

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