Unlocking Successful Relationships: Overcoming Lack of Clarity and Communication Issues

relationships Feb 22, 2023

By Patricia Wooster

Relationships are complicated. Think about it: two people (sometimes more) come together with different wants, needs, and desires, trying to create and maintain a connection. Bottom line: it isn’t easy. 

Two of the most significant relationship issues are clarity and communication problems, and these two factors can lead to misunderstandings, resentment, and even the breakdown of the relationship itself.

Lack of clarity can come in many forms. One partner may not know what they want or need, while the other may make assumptions about their partner's wants without confirming it. Both partners may make false assumptions about the other person's wants based on past experiences while forgetting that we all change and grow.

For example, imagine a situation where your partner is sick. The first time this happens, you may help and care for them, which makes the sick partner feel grateful. However, if they get sick again at a later date, they may prefer to do some things for themselves because they don’t want to feel helpless. Without proper communication, it is easy for both sides to feel misunderstood, resentful, and like they are not getting what they need. They make assumptions about the other person's wants without communicating their true feelings and needs.

Setting non-negotiables and sharing why they are important is important to avoid misunderstandings and resentment. For example, a routine like making the bed or having breakfast with the kids may be non-negotiable for the partner who is sick because it makes them feel like they are in control and taking care of their family. By communicating the reasons behind these non-negotiables, the other partner can better understand their importance and work towards meeting them.

Communication barriers are another major issue in relationships. Unhealthy communication styles like starting a conversation with "you always" or not being open to hearing the other person's side can create tension and conflict. It is essential to approach discussions from a neutral position to find a resolution rather than trying to win the argument.

A neutral position means stepping into a conversation with self-control and a willingness to listen and understand the other person's perspective. This tool allows both parties to start and remain neutral – remember that you can only control your neutrality and not the other person’s. Conversation starters are a good place to begin when the dialogue is unproductive. This allows both partners to work towards finding solutions that meet both of their needs. Here are a few to try:

Scenario: One partner is trying to create more intimacy in the relationship, but the discussion has turned into a disagreement about how that can be executed.

  • Would you consider __________? 

For example: “Would you consider going out to brunch Saturday mornings instead?” or “Would you consider curling up on the couch after the kids go to bed on Tuesday and watching a movie instead?”

  • Are you willing or unwilling to _________? For example: “Are you willing or unwilling to have calm discussions when we disagree?” or “Are you willing or unwilling to help me create more intimacy in the relationship?”

By setting non-negotiables and communicating clearly, partners can avoid misunderstandings and resentment. By approaching discussions from a neutral position and being open to hearing the other person's side, partners can work towards finding solutions that meet both of their needs. With these tools, relationships can thrive and bring joy and fulfillment to both partners.

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