I need to share a story with you – about the power of communication – and how it can make or break a relationship. I have seen too many couples struggle on without help, stuck in unhealthy conflict cycles, often resulting in the relationship breaking down. Yet as a Relationship Coach and qualified Couples Therapist, I have also successfully helped hundreds of couples to manage conflict compassionately, deepen their bond, and re-build their relationships.
The story is of John* and Jane*. They came to me for help because they felt their marriage was failing due to a lack of intimacy in their relationship.
They had only been in the room with me for 5 minutes before I could see what the problem was.
They weren’t managing conflict in a healthy way.
They seemed to disagree with each other about everything, including what led them to seek my help in the first place. They each blamed the other for their problems. They kept repeating the same arguments over and over again, and had been doing so for as long as they could remember.
Complaints would quickly turn into arguments about who had had the most stressful day. John – who had been at work in the City, under pressure from his demanding boss and exhausted by the commute – always thought it was him. Jane – who had been at home with the children all day and trying to manage the house, all the while trying to study for an Open University degree – always thought it was her.
John and Jane were clearly suffering. What I noticed, was that when one of them was speaking, the other was not listening.
Whilst one partner was supposed to be listening to the other, they were in fact just waiting for the other to finish speaking, all the while thinking about their own response. This meant that they weren’t really communicating at all! It’s no wonder that they would then get more and more frustrated until boiling point, where they would either shout at each other, or one of them would storm out.
John and Jane had reached the point where they would avoid raising issues with each other altogether, for fear of ending up in a blazing row. They had stopped connecting.
Couples often seek help for intimacy issues, and yet often the cause is that they simply aren’t communicating effectively. Most couples will not want to be intimate with each other if the rest of the relationship has begun to feel like a constant battle.
I always start by telling couples that the key to intimacy lies with one incredibly powerful skill – communication. I tell them to think of communication as the bridge linking them to each other. Sometimes, someone has to show you how to build and maintain that bridge. Critically, it is a two-person job, and part and parcel of that process is compassionate conflict resolution.
So, how did I work with John and Jane to help them manage their conflict?
- I taught John and Jane them how to recognise their own, and each other’s, triggers, so that they could deal with tension effectively before things escalated.
- They both gained an understanding of how the brain worked in a conflict situation, so that Jane could understand why she was unable to see John’s point of view during an argument.
- I gave them the tools to enable them to de-escalate an argument once it had already started.
- Crucially, I gave them the techniques and principles needed for effective communication, so that they felt confident enough to raise issues with each other, and were able to be honest without worrying that the other would become defensive.
Once they were able to have deeper conversations, they were able to make room for addressing the underlying issues in the relationship. As they began to communicate in a positive way, they were both able to rebuild trust, confidence, and even self-esteem. Naturally, intimacy followed.
I am happy to say that 6 months on, their communication has vastly improved and they feel it has transformed their relationship.
If you can relate to John and Jane, and feel that you and your partner struggle with communication, try the following:
- Ask your partner to read this post, as a way of initiating a discussion about the communication in your relationship.
- Try to identify what your triggers are – the things that really make your blood boil – and ask yourself WHY they bother you so much. For example, is it really the fact that your partner leaves their shoes in the middle of the floor, or is it the fact that you don’t feel respected when they do it?
- Be honest with yourself about how you communicate when arguing – do you use insults; what is your body language saying?
- Ask yourself how you could listen more, and how you could demonstrate to your partner that you have heard them. You don’t have to agree with your partner to listen to what they are saying.
- Try to plan some time with your partner out in nature, and notice how it calms your mood and re-energises you.
If you are struggling with the communication in your relationship, download my FREE Communication Guide for Couples. This guide has further tips for effective communication that you can use with your partner RIGHT NOW to enhance your relationship. Click the button below to download it!
Brand New! – If you would personally like my expert support to learn the EXACT techniques and steps to resolve conflict effectively without hurt, anger and frustration, you can now sign up for my Compassionate Conflict for Couples E-Course. At just £149 it is incredible value for at least 8 hours of coaching, and the first 10 people who sign up will receive a bonus 1:1 coaching call with me, absolutely FREE! These places will go fast and are strictly on a first-come, first-served basis. Click the button below for more information:-
If you would like any further information about this course, or have anything else that you would like help with, I would be delighted to hear from you. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I can’t wait to hear from you! X
*Client confidentiality is always protected. Case studies are therefore fictional and for illustrative purposes only.