Why Communication Is Crucial in a Relationship

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Couple communicating with each other

You've heard it many times, but do you really know why communication is important? Communication and trust are the two key ingredients in a healthy relationship. Without both, your relationship is likely to fail.

Understanding Communication

There are two types of communication - verbal and nonverbal. Each one is just as important as the other. The two should work together to relay information. When people don't use their voice to tell someone what they are thinking or feeling, their actions can do it instead. Sometimes both communications work together to emphasize an important message; however, this is only the case if someone is willing foster open communications with his/her partner.

Why Communication Is Important in a Relationship

People who don't communicate are not sharing a part of themselves with others. They hold onto their feelings and thoughts for many different reasons. Two reasons people in relationships fail to communicate are fear of rejection and concern they will do or say something to upset their partner. While the latter sentiment is noteworthy, not telling your partner what you need keeps the relationship from changing and growing. Growth in a relationship is crucial if you want it to be long-lived and satisfying.

Another reason why communication is important is that misunderstandings often occur between people. Each partner may perceive situations differently, which can create resentment and other hurt feelings. Without communication, couples may become upset with one another without even knowing why or how it started.

Here are a few examples of lack of communication causing problems in a relationship:

  • Your partner calls and tells you he is going to be home late from work. You already have dinner set on the table, but you tell him that you'll put a plate in the oven for him. You let it go without telling him how disappointed you are. Unfortunately, he does it again a couple days later, and then again in a few more days. You choose not to tell him that you would appreciate a call earlier in the day so that you don't plan to cook dinner for him. Instead, you grow even more upset and stop talking to him. He has no idea what your problem is and gets angry because you aren't telling him why you're upset. Soon, the two of you are bickering over every little thing and forgetting the root of your frustrations. These frustrations continue to grow, and you end up breaking up because you can't get along.
  • You know that your partner is busy, but you ask if she can do you a favor. She says she will, and you give her instructions. A few days later, you discover she didn't do what she promised. You get upset because you thought you could count on her. You hate to bring it up because you know she's really busy and probably just forgot. Instead, you keep your anger inside and get snappy with her or refuse to do anything for her when she needs you. She doesn't understand why you are upset and begins to react to the way you are behaving. She's fed up with the way you are treating her, and she breaks up with you.

In both of these situations, the partners should have discussed what initially upset them and dealt with it before it became a much larger issue.

The Uncommunicative Couple

It's one thing when one person in a relationship doesn't communicate, but when the couple doesn't, it signals the end of the relationship may be near. Many times, when couples stop telling each other their wants and needs, they may have already given up on one another. They lack motivation to work on resolving issues and may be waiting for someone to say, "It's time to break up."

Another time a couple may not communicate is when they both feel that if they talk about relationship, it will only make it worse. This type of couple probably still loves one another, but they may not know how to approach difficult topics without hurting the relationship. Without discussing problems -- or even neutral thoughts and feelings -- couples begin to lose their connection. Your interest in your partner most likely grew out of talking about things that you both loved to discuss. Once you don't have that any longer, you may lose interest.

Improving Your Relationship with Communication

Communication leads to sharing and bonding. Remaining close to your partner by sharing thoughts and feelngs will help you get through challenging times when life tries to pull you apart.

If it's your partner who has a difficult time opening up, discuss this lack of communication with him/her. Be comforting and sincere when you say that you are open to discuss any issues, thoughts or feelings he/she has. Don't belittle your partner or make him/her regret opening up to you when he/she feels comfortable, because that could make your partner stop trusting you and cease communication.

If you and your partner have issues with communication, it may be best to seek counseling. If either of you are unable to open up and discuss the things that are bothering you, then it may be beneficial to have a third party help you focus on issues and work through them. This will remove the fear that each of you has and give you a safe environment to overcome the obstacles in your relationship. In addition, a counselor will be able to teach you both effective communication skills so you can continue to work on your relationship for many years to come.

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Why Communication Is Crucial in a Relationship