Anyone who has ever been in a relationship for long enough will have experienced a few bumps in the road along the way. Those rougher times when you find yourself arguing with your SO about everything and anything. Since we’re always looking for little ways to consciously avoid these unhappy moments in our relationships, we asked psychologist Gemille Cribb, from Equilibrium Psychology to shed light on the number one reason couples in long-term relationships come to her for help.
Her answer? Lack of communication.
You may be thinking that you’ve got this one down pat—you talk about each other’s days, the latest underground podcast you found, or the funny thing your brother posted to Facebook. But when it comes to the serious stuff—like perhaps how you’re not feeling great about the relationship at the moment—they can be the topics that often go neglected since they're the more difficult conversations to have. Because sometimes, well after the initial sparks of lust subside, deeper rooted issues can begin to form and cause irreparable damage.
Keep scrolling for Cribb's tips on how you can communicate better in your relationship.
“Communication problems will often result in arguments, or feelings of disconnection and loss of love,” Cribb says. “Not being open and only communicating on a superficial or practical level can also contribute to people having affairs, and to an individuals’ experience of anxiety, stress, and depression.”
Cribb suggests taking the time to recognise and avoid negative behaviour to improve the quality of your conversations. “The solution is to develop a good understanding of habitual poor communication habits,” she says. “Research by John and Julie Gottman tells us there are four main culprit patterns in communication: Criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness. Once people understand when they are using these patterns and practice the antidotes, you can find a huge improvement in communication, restored feelings of love and connection, and better wellbeing in the whole family.”