Does it feel like you don’t know your partner anymore? Perhaps you no longer share your deepest thoughts and tend to avoid addressing issues.
Lack of communication in a relationship creates a yawning gap between married couples as well as romantic partners. You probably have a relationship communication problem if you no longer feel a strong emotional connection to your partner.
This article explains the causes and effects of poor relationship communication and shares a few tips to fix the problem.
Why Conscious Communication Is Important in Relationships
You constantly communicate with your partner, even if you don’t use words or open your mouth.
But here’s the thing.
Not every communication evolves your relationship. In fact, research shows that divorce rates are highest in marriages with communication problems, while homes with good communicators tend to have the lowest divorce rates.
Body language, facial expressions, and giving each other attention (or not) are ways we communicate. And when we communicate through spoken words, our inflection or tone of voice and behavior says more than literal words.
The trick to understanding your partner is learning to communicate consciously in ways that strengthen your connection.
Conscious and healthy communication gives you access to your partner’s inner world just as it lets them into yours to grasp what makes you tick. This is very vital to developing a strong emotional connection.
While all relationships experience occasional ups and downs, evolving your relationship will be extremely difficult if you struggle to freely discuss your hopes, goals, fears, concerns, and desires with your spouse or romantic partner.
What Causes Communication Problems in a Relationship?
Whether married or in an established relationship ― dating exclusively for a couple of months ― you must learn effective communication skills to keep the union alive and healthy.
Unfortunately, some couples are unaware that certain behaviors can lead to communication breakdowns. Some common behaviors that can cause communication problems in relationships include the following:
Letting Life Get in the Way
Lack of communication in a romantic relationship is often traced to things falling into a set routine, especially in relationships that have lasted for a while.
Life happens, and what was once an exciting journey with your partner gradually becomes a humdrum of activities that have you feeling stuck.
The stress of conflicting work schedules, dealing with the kids, or managing difficult family members can take a toll on the relationship. In time, you may start to vent your frustration on your partner.
Lack of Attention
Usually, couples give each other lots of attention during the initial stage of their relationship. While relationships always ebb and flow, too much attention to gadgets, social media, or work will push your relationship to the background, leaving your partner feeling neglected.
Poor Listening Skills
Misunderstandings are bound to ensue if you or your partner don’t feel validated or heard. This is often the case when partners merely wait for their turn to speak rather than actively listen to understand what the other is trying to convey.
Lack of Empathy
Another common relationship communication problem is ignoring your partner’s feelings. Not putting yourself in your partner’s shoes when addressing issues can lead to self-serving conclusions that may widen the emotional gap between you and your significant other.
Assuming the Worst
Always wondering who called or texted your partner is a sign of relationship insecurity. Irrational jealousy might seem harmless, but it brews a lack of trust. As you already know, making your relationship thrive becomes difficult once trust is eroded.
Worse still, this poor communication style will eat at you if you can’t freely talk about your trust issues with your partner.
Signs of Lack of Communication in a Relationship
Something is off with your relationship communication if you notice one or more of these signs:
- Lack of emotional connection: Feeling estranged from your partner because there is little to no connection with each other.
- Harsh criticisms: Saying unkind words or belittling each other. Sometimes, partners hide under the guise of correcting each other to say hurtful things.
- Passive aggression: Indirectly expressing negative feelings without openly talking about them but expecting the other person to get the message.
- Lack of compromise: Unwillingness to shift grounds or see things from each other’s point of view.
- Frequent arguments: An inability to rationally discuss certain issues without getting into a fight or serious misunderstanding.
- Unresolved issues: Having recurring arguments on the same issues.
- Defensiveness: Getting defensive and focusing on being correct during conflicts rather than resolving issues.
These warning signs are indications that you are drifting apart and your marriage or relationship is heading for the rocks. If you genuinely like each other, you must take deliberate steps to fix the communication problems in your relationship.
I’ll share a few of those steps in a bit.
But before then, let’s look at the consequences of not fixing communication problems in your relationship.
10 Effects of Lack of Communication in Relationship
1. Conflicts Are Escalated
Conflicts are normal in all relationships, including healthy ones. But when partners are poor communicators, conflicts will quickly degenerate into finger-pointing, name-calling, and hurtful remarks that can destroy the relationship.
Instead of focusing on the other person’s feelings with a view to resolving issues, partners with communication problems often ignore each other’s perspectives when addressing issues.
2. Resentment Toward Each Other
Couples will eventually begin to resent each other if communication issues persist, no matter how deep their initial love for each other is.
Maintaining positive feelings for your partner will become difficult if you can’t see eye to eye with them on important issues and both of you are unwilling to shift grounds.
3. Feeling Lonely
Relationships become lifeless when deep conversations and vulnerability are absent. Although you are in a relationship, it can feel extremely lonely when there is no one to actually share in your fears, hopes, and dreams.
4. Feeling Hopeless About the Relationship
Feeling hopeless about a relationship stems from constantly being ignored by your significant other. Unfortunately, hopelessness can make you lash out at your partner, worsening the communication problem.
5. Negative Impact on Individual’s Health
The effect of poor communication in relationships may negatively impact the emotional health of one or both partners. It can cause low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and increased stress levels.
6. May Lead to a Toxic Relationship
Communication problems can lead to the development of a toxic relationship if left unchecked. This is especially true when one partner has an anxious attachment style ― feeling unworthy of love ― while the other has an avoidant attachment style.
7. Conflicting Goals
Partners can hardly set and reach common life goals if they can’t communicate effectively. You will likely experience conflicts in various aspects, including career goals, parenting styles, or setting boundaries.
8. Fixating on What’s Not Working in the Relationship
A breakdown in communication forces you to pay less attention to what’s working in your relationship and focus more on all the negatives. This includes quickly pointing out your partner’s flaws and mistakes or keeping scores of wrongdoings.
9. Emotional Disconnect
No relationship thrives without a strong emotional connection. Unfortunately, communication problems can create emotional cracks, leading to a feeling of disconnect or a lack of emotional intimacy.
The longer couples stay without sharing their deep thoughts and feelings, the easier it becomes to drift apart from each other.
10. Lack of Intimacy
Lack of communication in a relationship creates an emotional disconnect between couples, leading to little or no physical intimacy and displays of affection, including verbal expressions of love, touching, hugging, kissing, and sex.
Tips for Fixing Communication Problems in a Relationship
If you struggle with communication issues in your relationship, use these tips to create healthier ways of communicating with each other.
- Understand your attachment styles: First, get a good grasp of your attachment style as well as that of your partner. This will help you figure out the best way to communicate with each other, as attachment styles often influence people’s communication patterns.
- Address issues from a “we” perspective: Adopt a “we” approach when communicating problems, especially when there’s a high chance of being misunderstood. Instead of “I” statements, use more “we” statements to give your partner a sense of belonging.
- Ask each other questions: Although you may be in a loving relationship, neither of you is a mind reader. For this reason, it is important to be curious about your partner’s views. Check on their feelings and perspectives occasionally to ensure you are on the same page.
- Be open to suggestions: Listen to each other’s perspectives when addressing issues, no matter how big or small the issues are. Being open to your partner’s suggestions doesn’t necessarily mean you must agree with them. Instead, it means you are willing to reach a compromise that works for everyone.
For more details on fixing relationship communication issues, I strongly recommend reading my detailed guide on fostering personal connection in relationships.