Improving Communication In Relationships Can Solve Relationship Problems

Relationship problems are often due to a lack of relationship skills and a lack of healthy communication in relationships.

Before I learned about healthy relationships skills, I struggled with relationship problems in my love life.

relationship problems communicationI remember one relationship with a man named John. We truly loved each other and had great passion but we didn't have healthy communication skills to address our problems.

For example, he criticized me for being a workaholic and how I complained frequently about my stress and overwhelm without doing anything about it. He would give me advice to try to fix my problems but I always had reasons why his suggestions wouldn't work.

I also criticized him frequently for many things I didn't like including being messy, lacking organization skills, overspending and for not exercising. My thinking was that someday he would follow through if I just kept mentioning it enough. It backfired. The more I criticized, the more he resisted doing anything I wanted out of retaliation for my nagging and making him feel bad about who he was. (Note: Nagging and criticizing is the most common way that women try to control men and it makes men feel emasculated and resentful.)

Our pattern was that we would bring up our criticisms of each other and argue and defend ourselves and then just drop the issue, feeling resentful and angry. After 14 months of ups and downs, and unresolved conflict, we had a major fight and John told me he was done for good.

I was stunned and devastated. The days that followed I was deeply anxious and couldn't sleep, eat or think about anything but the loss of John and how I was desperate to try to get him back. My ego, which had always felt that I was right and knew better than John, suddenly popped. I was brought to my knees, humbled, and I felt I had no self-worth or hope for the future. All I wanted was John.

Because I was so devastated by the break up and eager to change in order to try to reconcile with him, I asked John to sit down with me and talk about what went wrong and what I had done that hurt him. He agreed.

For the first time, I was able to put aside my ego aside and truly listen and understand how he felt, instead of getting defensive and attacking him back. As painful as it was, I sat there for hours listening to an avalanche of hurt feelings that he had bottled up inside and been carrying with him day after day. I was shocked by his ability to recall every single thing I said and did over 14 months that hurt him.

Listening to him share his memories and feelings about how I had hurt him made my heart heavy with guilt, shame, and regret. For the first time I saw how dysfunctional I was in the relationship, how my need to control, criticize and complain made him "feel like crap about himself," how my constant wavering about whether or not I wanted to be with him eroded any sense of security and future with me, how I would avoid spending time with him and his son because I felt my time was better spent working.

It was a long list of evidence that my relationships skills were poor and I had not been a great partner to John. He also lacked relationship skills especially in conflict resolution and talking about his feelings instead of stuffing them inside and quietly withdrawing from our relationship.

I vowed to make things right and do everything differently if he would give me a second chance to be a better partner to him. But he was adament that it was too late; we had tried repeatedly and nothing ever changed and he had no more faith that we were not a good fit.

With a very sad and heavy heart, I had no choice but to accept the mistakes I made and to let him go. For three months I experienced depression, grief and suffering from the break up. The suffering from this final break up brought me to my knees, popped my inflated ego and made me motivated to make serious changes. I vowed to never lose someone I loved dearly because of a lack of relationship skills. I would never repeat the same mistakes again.
To cope with my suffering, I started reading spiritual books like Tolle's The Power of Now and A New Earth to help me with my ego and to overcome my negative thinking. I also read books on relationship skills so that I would be able to have healthy communication in relationships.

Spiritual author Eckhart Tolle says that most people need intense suffering to bring about consciousness raising and permanent change. Therefore, I truly believe that the tremendous emotional suffering, and grief from losing John, was the experience I needed to have in order to get on a more spiritual path and learn about how to be a better partner. My goal was to get married and have kids someday but every relationship I had, ended due to conflict. I had thought the problem was that I chose poorly but now I knew that my ego, anxiety and inability to resolve conflict in a healthy way were contributors to my failed relationships.

In my research on relationship skills and communication in relationships, one relationship skill that I learned is that there is a structured healthy way to respond to relationship conflict that goes like this:

1. Person A states concerns with "I feel" statements to prevent person B from getting defensive.
Instead of John saying to me: "Why do you have to work all the time? You don't care about me at all. All you care about is your business." which made me defensive and angry.

The healthy way to communicate concerns is: "I care about you and this relationship and I have a concern about how you work during the evening. I feel like I'm not a priority to you when you work every evening. I want us to have the evenings free for our quality time because spending time with you is the most important thing in the world to me." (It is so helpful here to emphasize that the concern comes from a place of love and wanting to improve the relationship, not criticism and judgment.)

2. Person B paraphrases the concern.
Me: "So what you're saying is that you feel you're not important to me when I work in the evenings and you want to discuss a possible solution."

3. Person A confirms the paraphrase is correct.
John: "That is right."

4. Person B responds in a loving way, expresses appreciation for bringing this concern to light and apologizes:
"Thank you for sharing your concern with me. Your concerns and needs are important to me. I am very sorry that I hurt you by working in the evenings and I didn't know that you thought you are not important to me. You are the most important person in the world to me and I love you! (HUG) I agree with you that I would prefer to take the evenings off for us to have quality time together because I love spending time with you."

5. Person A and B discuss an Action Plan.
Me: "I guess I feel compulsive about working all the time because I need more help and can't keep up with the workload. I need to figure out a plan so I can keep my hours to 40 a week and we can have our evenings free. Do you have any suggestions?"

John: "Yes I do. Let's brainstorm about this together..."

The couple should then take notes and follow through on the action plan they come up with. It is self-defeating and discouraging for a couple to come up with suggestions and an action plan if there is no follow-through. It sends the message that to try is pointless because nothing will change.

I hope this article prevents others from making the same mistakes that I made in past relationships. I actually have tears as I write this article because people lose love every day to a lack of relationship skills and love is the most important thing in the world.

Always remember that good relationship skills are the key to overcoming and preventing relationship problems and keeping the love you find.

When I die, the only thing I will care about when I go through my life review is "Did I love people unconditionally?" "Did others love me?" "Did I raise my consciousness and have inner peace?"

Nothing else matters.

Can you imagine how peaceful this world would be and how many relationships would be saved if people could resolve their differences in a peaceful loving way such as this?  Do you handle your conflicts this way?  Share your comments below.
 Better communications in relationships can solve relationship problems

About the Author:
Dr. Kendra Pearsall, N.M.D. is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor specializing in natural weight loss and food addiction. She created to help millions of people achieve optimal health, natural weight loss and life success with her free weekly e-newsletter (sign up at the top of this page.)