According to our new study on communication in relationships, couples who argue effectively are ten times more likely to have a happy relationship than those who sweep difficult issues under the rug.
And what are the most difficult topics couples usually avoid or harmfully debate? The study found that the three most difficult topics for couples to discuss are sex, finances, and irritating habits. Other interesting statistics include:
- Four out of five say poor communication played a role in their last failed relationship and half cite poor communication as a significant cause of the failed relationship.
- Fewer than one in five believe they are usually to blame when a conversation goes poorly.
- Those who blame their partner for poor communication are more likely to be dissatisfied with the relationship.
Many couples operate under the myth that when they avoid discussing sensitive issues, they avoid an argument. And most couples mistakenly assume that avoiding an argument is ultimately a win for the relationship. However, what we don’t talk out, we eventually act out. In reality, it’s not how much you argue, but the way in which you debate sensitive issues that ultimately determines the success of your relationship. The good news is that with the right set of skills, crucial conversations can strengthen your relationship.
Here are five tips for effectively holding crucial conversations with your significant other:
- Manage your thoughts. Soften your judgments by asking yourself why a reasonable, rational, and decent person would do what your significant other is doing.
- Affirm before you complain. Don’t start by diving into the issue. Establish emotional safety by letting your significant other know you respect and care about him or her.
- Start with the facts. When you begin discussing the issue, strip out accusatory, judgmental, and inflammatory language.
- Be tentative but honest. Having laid out the facts, tell your significant other why you’re concerned—but don’t do it as an accusation, share it as an opinion.
- Invite dialogue. After sharing your concerns, encourage your significant other to share his or hers—even if he or she disagrees with you. If you are open to hearing your significant other’s point of view, he or she will be more open to yours.