How to Fix Poor Relationship Communications
There are probably the same jugular issues that crop up time and time again in your relationships that have you thinking why on earth you haven’t you both put a stop to it all by now. It’s like déjà vu… all over again. And again. And again. And again.
Now we all probably have niggly minor disagreements on the simplest of things – the plates aren’t put correctly in the dishwasher, the newspapers are piling up in the corner, the towels need to be aired or they’ll smell the place up…all causes of possible niggly, minor disagreements. They’re usually nothing toxic.
But then, there are the disagreements that are possibly rooted at an emotional level, guaranteed to create anger, tears and frustration, each and every time. And these disagreements could involve, though are not limited to; issues to do with money, relatives, careers, children, housing.
It’s fair to say that when we’re deep inside a communication drama, we’re aware of what’s going on, but, unable at the time to stop or interrupt ourselves. Which would of course, most likely put an end to the drama. Now even if we’re able to put a stop to the drama, what we may not be totally conscious and aware of is the destructive, deep rooted pattern that continually plays out in our lives.
In “Pragmatics of Human Communication,” three doctors from the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, California, state that it’s impossible not to communicate when other humans, are in close proximity. Even the act of ignoring someone is a form of communication. What’s the message that’s being sent out in this scenario? The message is that you don’t want to interact you don’t want to speak or even making eye contact. However, that non-communication is a form of communication!
And it’s this non-communication form of communication that leads to the stuck pattern grooves experienced in almost every relationship we form. And not surprisingly, without embarking on any kind of awareness or detective work, the patterns are almost invisible to detect by the naked eye. So the key question is; how can we break these seemingly invisible destructive patterns that are stopping us from leading happy, productive lives?
Discover & Fill Your Personal Voids
In a detailed analysis of relationship types and patterns by Carmen Lynch, M.F.C.C., it is noted that many of the destructive relationship types end when one partner no longer needs something specific from the other. The relationship is only really kept alive by the desperate need for validation, attention, support or something both partners feel they cannot obtain alone.
Let’s look at three of the relationship types discussed by Lynch while considering what the parties involved are seeking from each relationship:
- Survival Relationships: One or both parties depend on the relationship for physical or emotional survival. One person may have nowhere else to live and no way to buy food and other essentials without the financial support of the other, so they feel trapped. Alternatively, one party may fear emotional starvation if they leave the relationship.
- Validation Relationships: One or both parties need the approval of their partner to feel authentic or legitimate. They need their partner’s acceptance or adoration in order to believe in themselves or to move forward in their lives with confidence.
- Scripted Relationships: Each person expects the other to live according to patterns that are perceived as normal. They live according to expected roles rather than their authentic desires, and there is tremendous conflict if one person steps out of their scripted role even in the smallest of ways. Each person depends on the other for a sense of normalcy.
Many dysfunctional patterns emerge when you depend on your partner to fulfill needs that you are capable of fulfilling for yourself. No other person can meet all of your intimate, emotional and physical needs all of the time.
The guaranteed way to break the patterns that come with neediness is to identify the voids in your life and, begin the process of depending on yourself to fill them. For instance, a stay-at-home mother may decide to start an at-home business because she’s financially dependent on her partner. And as such, the relationship is a troubled one. However, once she secures her own income and now isn’t in the relationship based on financial neediness, the negative patterns created by her financial instability and dependency, are broken. She’s identified the void and then filled it with her own efforts and endeavors.
Explore New Patterns
Of course, relationships do not have to end when one or both parties start becoming self-reliant and self-dependent. Once the troubling negative pattern is broken through one’s own efforts, self-reliance is automatically established. And depending on the willingness of both people in the relationship, the relationship often transitions into healthier one. Deeper quality relationships unfold when neediness and unrealistic demands and expectations are replaced by acceptance, appreciation, support and love.
Positive relationship turnarounds happen when understanding what the voids are, and, how to fill them. And for most of us, because we’re too deeply involved in our relationship, we rarely scratch the surface of the problem. We need help. Life coaches specializing in solving the kind of relationships issues mentioned here are worth investigating.
Other Ways to Break Negative Relationship Patterns
What else can be done to break a negative pattern causing harm in a relationship? Here are a few immediately practical solutions you can take;
• When a fight becomes intense and heated, try stop communicating to each other, verbally. Yes, it’s a question of becoming aware of when the communication fire is at full burn because only through your awareness will you and your partner be able to press the pause button. And then what? Now this has to be agreed upon before-hand as and when a toxic situation arises, because the next step is for both you and your partner to go to a separate room and simply write down your thoughts about the matter at hand. Don’t censor yourself on the page, write what comes to you. But, at the same time, don’t complicate things. And then, once you’ve both completed your thoughts on paper, do a divergent activity before you both sit and read what each other has written about the issue. A divergent activity could be going for a walk, taking a run or having a shower. Then, you can both sit down and look at what you’ve both written. And the main aim here is to not let the written words turn into another fight or argument, to not let each other be held to ransom based on what’s written. That needs to be firmly agreed on before carrying out this process. The key here is to really understand the situation from the other person’s perspective, from their vantage point. And when you can do that when there’s no roaring communication fire to contend with at the same time, there’s more likelihood of the problem being solved.
• Be a detective of your own relationships. What does that mean? Study your relationship for warning signals that occur just before the negative pattern is about to repeat itself. Because then, you can choose to do something different to interrupt the pattern before it occurs. For instance, if you know you react negatively when your spouse reaches home because they’re in a bad mood, interrupt your own conditioned reactions and instead, make your spouse a cup of tea and talk about something other than a work related issue. This not only breaks the normal unhelpful pattern, it also helps in creating a calm atmosphere in the home. And once calm settles in, that’s the time to broach the matter.
• Create agreements and boundaries with each other and impose penalties if the line is crossed or the agreements are broken. For example; if either you or your spouse uses foul language or your voices are raised, or there’s intense anger, then not only will that conversation not continue in that moment, but a penalty will have to be paid. And, why not use money as the penalty? You can in fact become creative with the administering of the whole process – which will in turn, go a long way for there to be less and less arguments and fights. Creative in what way? You can for example, name the jar a special kind of fund – for example ‘The semi-hothead fund’… anything to make the whole experience seem like a fun game that’s being played. And the good thing about that is if one party becomes angry or toxic, when they drop the money penalty in The Semi-Hothead fund jar, it’ll raise a smile. And when there’s smiles and laughter around, toxic communications cannot co-exist. They’ll simply wither and die.
Of course, not all the ideas and strategies mentioned will work in every relationship. Both have to be willing to want to solve their communication problems and issues. Once that’s established, then relationships become a playground for experimentation and testing. Destructive patterns become less so. Happier solutions to old problematic communications become welcomed guests.