What Are The Signs Of Bad Communication In A Marriage?
There are many signs of bad communication in a marriage, and it’s more difficult to recognize them when you are living in the situation. It’s not always clear in the moment what is a potential red flag, so here are some examples of situations or feelings that might indicate it’s time to work on your communication as a couple:
- Avoidance, shutting down, or tuning out during conversation
- Name calling or frequent yelling and screaming
- Blaming, criticizing, and judging your partner
- Gaslighting your partner either intentionally or unintentionally
- Disregarding your partner’s request for a break in the conversation
- Threatening divorce or to cutoff access to kids
- Using old wounds as ammunition during a fight
- Unresolved childhood traumas
- Considering an affair
- Poor or a non-exisistent sex life
Lack Of Effective Communication In Marriages
When communication breaks down in a marriage, couples often start to build resentment, create more emotional or physical distance, or try to get those needs met outside the marriage. It is very common for affairs to start when there is poor communication between the couple. Most couples only seek communication therapy after struggling for years. Unfortunately, those difficult years often lead to personal health issues, substance abuse, infidelity, depression or anxiety, or significantly impact the wellbeing of the kids both in and outside the home.
Whether you have spent years struggling or you just entered a marital crisis, the good news is that positive change can happen quickly. More than half of our couples report poor communication as their #1 complaint. Some couples claim to communicate too much which usually means they are “brutally honest”!
Negative communication is when you talk about what you don’t like or taking your partners inventory. Positive communication focuses on what you want or would like from your partner in order to feel closer and good about yourself and your relationship.
Resentment in marriage usually builds up over time from unresolved conflicts. Failure to develop closure around disagreements, traumatic experiences, and other tense moments in your relationship tend to fester and become worse with time.
Most sexless marriages start with an emotional disconnection. So in order to not only survive a sexless marriage but to actually thrive, you and your partner need to have a deep conversation about your desires and fantasies both directly related and adjacent to your sex life.
Regardless of the reasons and context of an affair, it hurts and trust is significantly broken. Unfortunately, while divorce feels like a solution, about 80% of couples who separate due to an affair eventually regret that decision.
Many couples considering divorce believe they are no longer compatible with each other. This is a painful thought, but the reality is that you probably are compatible and just have to develop the skills to repair what has been hurt.
How Important Is Communication In A Marriage?
Communication is very important in marriage. It is a basis for a successful intimate relationship like a marriage along with compatibility and the ability to negotiate feelings and reactions. A good communicator knows what they are feeling and thinking, and even what they would like, at any given moment. This is an important skill if you are to have any mastery over self-regulation. Emotions help us to organize our inner world. Real change comes when we learn to shift our emotions into a more positive place. That requires exploring our thinking, our assumptions, and emotions.
Communication Is Key
There is a well researched ratio by the Gottman Institute that happy couples have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. The majority of interactions are verbal, therefore working on improving your communication skills is necessary to maintain a positive ratio. In addition to considering verbal communication, we also help couples improve their non-verbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, and overall tone within a conversation.
Effective communication in your relationship will help you to:
- Improve your sex life
- Build trust
- Increase emotional intimacy
- Successfully problem solve
- Coparent together
- Increase attraction and desire
- Prevent affairs
- Increase personal life fulfillment
What Is The Goal Of Communication Therapy
The goal of communication therapy is help you communicate in a way that builds an emotional connection, repairs past hurts, and generally improves overall intimacy. We help couples to understand that what they see as an obstacle is actually a catalyst for deeper intimacy. Because our nervous systems are more sensitive to negative experiences (hence the 5:1 ratio mentioned above), this means that unpleasant emotions have more potential power than pleasant ones.
Think of negative emotions like a nuclear energy: you can use that potential to create an energy facility that nurtures connection, or you can create a bomb that causes disconnection and chaos. Most couples creates bombs, and our goal is to help you create a lifelong facility of connection. Reliable and permanent change does not have to take long. Good communication, like neuropathways, can change in the blink of an eye. Just as a car crash can change your life for the worse in a moment, so can a personal catharsis change your marriage for the better in a heart beat.
Build Stronger Communication Skills Through A Marriage Retreat
Communication therapy is one of the foundational pillars of a Marriage Quest Retreat, and it works. The reason it works is because we are going to stop the conversation and redirect you when the fighting or avoidance starts. This process allows us to quickly identify the negative cycles and triggers that cause poor communication, but then more importantly it allows us to coach you on how to talk to each other in a manner that rebuilds trust, creates good habits, and nurtures a healthy marital team so that you can continue to apply these skills long after the retreat ends.
Many couples who attend a Marriage Quest Retreat are dealing with a break in trust either from an affair, past gaslighting, or other breakdowns in the relationship. Effective communication should help both partners feel heard and validated so they can become vulnerable with each other and trust that the other person is safe and will take care of them. Extreme stressful emotions or beliefs that came into your life during a childhood trauma like bullying or into your adult life like finding out about an affair, was all there to protect you. These “parts” of your inner self need to talk to each other at some point. They need to learn to adapt and to serve you in a positive by mediating the parts. Richard Schwartz, developer of Internal Family Systems, talks about the 8C’s: courage, connectedness, creativity, compassion, clarity, calm, curious, and confident. We have found the 8 C’s helpful in rebuilding trust in one’s self and in the marriage.
Create Good Habits
Many couples looking for communication therapy need to break old habits. You will get better at what you practice, which means that most couples who contact us for support are masters at arguing or avoiding conversations. The only way you are going to have effective conversations with your spouse is to improve and practice good communication with each other. During the retreat, we are going to observe, coach, and redirect the conversation to help you form new habits.
Marital Team Building
During your retreat, we are your lifeline. We are going to hold you accountable, provide direction and insight, and teach you how to have an effective conversation. Before the retreat ends, we are going to instruct you and your partner in how to be a team and support each other in continuing to grow and apply these skills. Learning how to coach your partner is essential for long term success.
Frequently Asked Questions
Gently encouraging. Don’t push or ask a bunch of questions. Maybe be a good role model of being open and vulnerable, not critical and judgmental. Listen and mirror back what he or she says to you. Seem interested.
That’s a great question. Do you think you are open to your partner? Maybe ask a close friend or two, if you have some.
When you check out completely. Some call this an emotional cutoff. When someone is truly cut-off from their marriage it is difficult for them to rekindle and be close again. Sometimes people think that they are cut off or have abandoned the marriage emotionally and there is no turning back, but that is not true. Sometimes they can find their way back to their spouse and marriage. We call those miracles, and we have seen that happen many times.
Consider A Marriage Counseling Retreat
Struggling to communicate effectively with your spouse can feel extremely frustrating and lead to many negative outcomes in the relationship. If you are ready to finally learn the right tools, repair from past hurts, and increase your overall emotional intimacy, sexually fulfillment, and trust in your marriage, then learn how a Marriage Quest Retreat can help jump start your progress in only a few days.
I'm Ready For Help
Please contact us today to either book your retreat ASAP or schedule a free phone consultation to learn more about our programs.