Today’s relationship advice blog was written by one of our expert love mentors, Karen Holland. Karen is also a licensed marriage and family therapist. In this essay she shows how bad communication is like poor plumbing and wiring in our homes. We take it for granted until it goes bad.
How Bad Communication is Like Bad Plumbing
Communication in a love relationship is like the plumbing and electricity in our homes. We take them for granted yet without them, we can function, but it’s not much fun or very easy. Yes, bad communication like leaky pipes can make life pretty ugly.
Ultimately, good communication happens when we are happy and close with our partners. Have you ever noticed when you’re feeling connected, you can easily overlook how imperfect your partner might say things or that you just “get” what they’re trying to say? And, have you noticed that when you’re feeling distant or resentful toward your partner, everything they say is somehow hurtful or misunderstood? To read more about great relationship advice and tips for maintaining a close connection, see Dr. Diana’s bestselling relationship advice book, Love in 90 Days.
What is Bad Communication?
We all know when it’s bad. The miscommunications pile up and we feel more and more frustrated. Bad communication sets us up for hurt feelings or unmet expectations.
Bad Communication 1. Resistance
The act of resisting most things your partner is trying to tell you, ask of you or suggest to you (especially around areas of health, finances, family matters, or self destructive behaviors).
Bad Communication 2. Defensiveness
The same as resistance but adding either blame, return criticism or avoiding the issue.
Bad Communication 3. Stonewalling
Actively ignoring your partner when they’re talking to you either by leaving the room or turning head or eyes away (more than just distraction; an obvious act of rejection).
Bad Communication 4. Arguing
Arguing isn’t effective communication. It isn’t necessarily bad or even a predictor of divorce; it’s just not good communication. It’s usually laced with defensiveness and criticism. Learning how to fight fairly is a key to a happy relationship.
Bad Communication 5. Listening through filters
We all have filters (intoxication, being too tired, emotionally triggered, etc.). The problem is when we don’t recognize or acknowledge them. Once acknowledged, we have a choice on how to respond.
Bad Communication 6. Being indirect or unclear
Human beings can get into the bad habit of being really unclear when they communicate. We drop a hint and hope our partners pick up on it. If you want something done or heard, be very clear and specific. Otherwise, it’s a pretty bad way of relating that often leads to fighting and resentments.
Bad Communication 7. Being Critical,Talking Abusively or Name Calling
This sounds like obvious bad communication but it’s labeled in our minds as things like: “It’s just how I feel!” or “I was just mad.” But the damage of criticism, name calling or being harsh runs deep and too much of it can really destroy trust, closeness and respect in a relationship.
If you find yourself doing any of these seven bad habits, here is the most critical relationship advice: stop yourself and take a time out. You and your partner will be glad you did.
Thank you, Karen, for your wise words and great relationship advice. And don’t miss reading about how healthy couples communicate.