This blog will share 4 common communication problems that occur in relationships, and tips on how to work towards changing them. It’s inevitable that within relationships, arguments or disagreements will arise. How you and your partner work to address this is crucial, and will determine how you navigate conflict throughout the course of your relationship.


Experiencing past traumas, such as childhood trauma or relationship trauma, can affect perspectives, behaviors, and decisions in current relationships. It’s possible that for example, you may have grown up in a dysfunctional household that involved heated arguments, substance abuse, untreated mental illness, and more.


You also may have been in a relationship that was unhealthy. If you had been cheated on or lied to in the past, you may carry the difficult feelings of that into your future relationships. This contributes to the cycle of having trust issues, battling personal insecurities, and potentially taking it out on your partner at times.


4 common communication problems include:

  1. Difficulty expressing your feelings
  2. Getting overwhelmed mid-conversation
  3. Having an inability to listen to the other person
  4. Letting emotions dictate your responses


Individual therapy in Simi Valley, CA can sometimes be a better option than couples counseling as it provides you with a space to focus solely on what’s going on for you, when your partner does not want to do therapy.


Couples therapy in Simi Valley, CA does not pick sides in sessions – it’s focused on maintaining an open conversation to explore both partner’s concerns in the relationship.


4 Common Communication Problems in Relationships and How to Change Them: Difficulty expressing your feelings

lesbian couple trying to calmly discuss differences and avoid an argument using skills from couples therapy in Simi Valley, ca

You may struggle with properly expressing your feelings. In the moment of intense conversation, you may resort to expressing your feelings through anger, such as yelling. Ultimately, yelling does not get your message across any clearer, and can further complicate a situation or lead to distance in the relationship. 


When you’re able to express your feelings, your partner is better able to understand and take action with you. Having the skill to identify your feelings and connect them to certain events, actions, or behaviors is a skill to strengthen on your own as well. You can build this skill in a number of ways:


  • Use “I” statements. This makes communication more clear and avoids placing the blame on your partner. Rather than “You need to start cleaning up after your messes in the kitchen”, say, “I feel frustrated when I have to do twice the clean up work and I would appreciate it if you do your share”.


  • State your needs or your boundaries. “When I feel stressed from work, I don’t want to gossip about your friends or family. It makes me feel overwhelmed. I would prefer to save that conversation for a later time.”


  • Keep it simple when you can. You do not need to explain everything going on for you and why you may be feeling a certain way. Try to be clear in your statements and how you are feeling at this moment. 


Couples counseling in Simi Valley, CA helps you and your partner find a way to attend to each other’s needs after sharing your feelings. Your couples therapist will support you in taking action to understand and work through issues in your relationship. 


Struggling to express your feelings is a common communication problem. It is not always easy to link our bodily reactions to our emotions, especially in times of feeling overwhelmed, sad, or frustrated. 


4 Common Communication Problems in Relationships and How to Change Them: Getting overwhelmed mid-conversation

couple feeling better about continuing their marriage after completing marriage therapy in Simi Valley, ca

Getting overwhelmed mid-conversation can stop you and your partner from fully coming to a resolution together. When difficult topics come up that can leave you feeling frustrated, you may feel like you just can’t take it anymore, and abruptly leave the conversation.


There are ways to work on self-regulation in the moment to avoid getting overwhelmed mid-conversation. Sometimes if you are overstimulated by noises, high emotions, and your partner being upset, it can feel like the conversation is very difficult to get through.


Establish fair fighting rules in your relationship. What are some things that both of you are needing when you start to feel overwhelmed during a disagreement? A common thing could simply be space, where you and your partner physically separate in a calm manner for a brief period to try to calm yourselves down.


Taking breaks to have space can look like going to separate areas of your home or someone taking a walk to cool down. It’s important to not use this as an excuse to disappear or be non-communicative for extended periods of time, and to stay in contact with your partner about your needs. 


Make sure to check out our blog on How to Find a Marriage Therapist – for when you are feeling that it’s time to address some outstanding issues with a professional.


Couples therapy in Simi Valley, CA helps provide you with tools to self-regulate during difficult conversations where you would otherwise feel overwhelmed. These skill sets can be applied to other areas of your life, and help with managing stress, frustration, or anxiety.


4 Common Communication Problems in Relationships and How to Change Them: Inability to listen to each other’s sides

older couple spending quality time together as recommended by their couples therapist in Simi Valley, ca

You and your partner may struggle to listen to each other’s sides of a disagreement. This can look like one of you feeling very certain to be “right”, and the other person is “wrong”. However in relationships, it’s about the two of you working together to resolve the problem, and not singling each other out.


Being able to listen to each other’s sides takes establishing respect for one another. Remember why you started dating them in the first place, or why you want to continue to be with them. If you struggle to think of these reasons, it’s safe to say that perhaps there is more underlying this disagreement or particular argument, such as a breakdown of trust or respect over time.


It’s important to treat the other partner how you would want to be treated when you are wanting to communicate difficult feelings with them. Come to a mutual agreement on what this will look like for both of you; not using or looking at your phone during conversations, not turning your back to them mid-sentence, and more.


Make sure to check out our blog on 4 Reasons to Start Couples Therapy – if you and your partner struggle to hear each other out, couples therapy would be the right option for both of you. 


Couples counseling in Simi Valley, CA offers both of you opportunities to express your feelings or needs to one another, while guiding you to see how you can meet them within your own boundaries and limitations.


Exploring what may be stopping you and your partner from having a productive conversation is one common topic that is addressed in couples counseling. From there, you both are given the tools to grow as individuals for the benefit of your relationship. 


4 Common Communication Problems in Relationships and How to Change Them: Letting emotions dictate your responses

young couple feeling ready to move forward with marriage after extensive couples counseling in Simi Valley, ca to resolve any issues

It could be that you are feeling unheard or frustrated in your relationship. When we are lacking the tools to self-regulate and calm down in times of high stress, frustration, or anger, we may explode and release our difficult feelings in hurtful ways, or detach. This might look like insulting the other person, cursing and yelling, or simply walking away from each difficult conversation. 


When emotions dictate responses, they can be damaging and make achieving a resolution more difficult. They can create compounded future issues and overall be detrimental to the progress of the relationship. It is a skill that takes practice and effort to be able to stop yourself from lashing out or withdrawing.


Be aware of what comes up for you when you are feeling frustrated or stressed out. Acknowledge what you are wanting to say, but try to stop and think about the potential consequences of what you are able to say. Will this hurt both me and my partner? Will saying this contribute to coming to a calm resolution?


Make sure to check out our blog on 3 Benefits of Individual Therapy, where we share reasons why individual therapy may be a better fit for your needs over couples therapy. Individual therapy can provide you a space to independently explore your past traumas or triggers that may contribute to behaviors you’re looking to change. 


It can feel intimidating starting couples therapy. You may fear judgment or that you will be cornered in the room by your therapist and partner. However, you and your couples therapist must work together to ensure both of you feel comfortable, safe, and heard in sessions.


Consider calling our therapy group at (805) 774-1506 for a free and transparent consultation on how you can get started in parenting therapy, individual therapy, or family counseling! Our intake coordinator will guide you to finding the best fit service and therapist for your needs.


Seek out a validating, safe environment with us today. We will help you get to where you want to be. Our therapists provide teen therapy, individual adult therapy, LGBTQIA+ therapy, anxiety therapy, depression therapy, family therapy, and more in-office in Simi Valley, CA.

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