In cafés, restaurants and at the water cooler women complain that men don’t talk about their feelings. Admittedly, this is a stereotype.. Some women don’t talk and some men do. In any case, what do you do when your partner doesn’t talk?

Some of the most difficult things to talk about are problems in your relationship. Some people argue that they feel uncomfortable talking about relationship issues or that their parents didn’t handle conflict well so they didn’t learn how. Often people dislike talking about problems because they fear it will lead to an unproductive argument.

In this case, it can be helpful to have some guidelines for problem-solving. Most people (even conflict-avoiders) are willing to engage in discussion if they feel there’s a good chance the issue can be resolved. I call this “productive arguing.”

You can start to improve your communication by establishing some “rules of engagement”. Select a time when you’re getting along well and you’re both in a good mood. Sit down together and talk about the ways that you would like to improve your communication. Stay away from blame and don’t point out your partner’s past mistakes. Instead, focus on how you want your communication to be different in the future. Some examples might be “Listen without interrupting”, “Talk for no more than one minute”, “Offer solutions” and “If you don’t like the other person’s suggestion, offer one of your own.”
In the beginning stages, it’s important to know how to de-escalate an argument. The best way is to separate when things start to heat up. Then agree that you will meet again within twenty-four hours to discuss it again. If the discussion deteriorates the second time, you may want to consider couples therapy. It can be helpful to have a neutral third party who can create a safe environment where you and your partner can begin to learn to resolve problems more effectively.

Most important, don’t be discouraged. Communication problems can feel overwhelming. In my experience, however, these problems are usually resolved with the help of a skilled couples therapist.

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Author's Bio: 

Kelly Stout, LCSW
Near Evans and I-25
Denver, CO 80220
303-692-1569 - Office