Relationships can bring excitement and satisfaction and enhance our lives, but anything worth having takes work. No relationship—professional, platonic, romantic or otherwise—is complete without open, honest communication.
Have you ever wondered how to stop minor issues from blowing out of proportion and becoming dramatic arguments? Read on to discover why small irritants can become more stressful than necessary and how to prevent this.
(We’ll talk to you using “you” to demonstrate what causes these problems, but know that “you” can be you, your partner, or both of you.)
What Causes Small Problems To Turn Into Bigger Issues? 4 Top Reasons & How To Avoid Them
• You take irritants personally
One common issue among couples is the frustrating instinct to perceive something annoying as intentional. Whether it’s loud snoring, an unwashed dish on the counter or a forgotten errand, we humans tend to make everything about ourselves.
In an irritated state, you may turn to thoughts like, “they never consider me!” or even “they did that just to spite me.” In reality, your partner likely wasn’t thinking at all and was simply operating unconsciously.
When you see or experience this, remind yourself that both you and your partner are only human. When cohabiting, you’ve got to give them a little slack (and expect it in return). No one is perfect all the time, and there will be areas where things bother you long before they bother them – such as how long a dirty dish can sit in the sink before they clean it.
• You don’t think before you speak and taking negativity out on your partner
There’s a reason so many song lyrics talk about the cliche of always hurting the one you love. While it’s often frustrating and unfair, it makes sense that the person we see most will see us in our worst states. But that doesn’t mean they deserve to have our stress and anger channeled toward or through them.
We can prevent this from happening by being more mindful of how we speak to each other. The acronym THINK is helpful here:
• True: is what I’m about to say accurate and true, or is it spoken out of spite or frustration?
• Helpful: am I resolving the situation by saying this?
• Inspiring: will this discussion inspire my partner and me to do better?
• Necessary: would this comment be better left unsaid?
• Kind: am I saying this with love?
This is often unconscious when other areas of our lives have become stressful, so don’t feel too terrible if you realise you’ve been doing this. Identifying it and changing how you act and speak toward your partner is the most important factor. Don’t be afraid to share this article with your partner if this is a two-way street.
• You’re hot and cold, and your partner doesn’t know what to expect
It’s in our nature to be inconsistent, but when it comes to communication, inconsistency can cause issues. If we’re open and honest one day and reclusive and secretive the next, it’ll likely cause suspicion and stress in our relationship.
Similarly, if we’re inconsistent with how we talk to each other (tone, body language and words themselves), this can also cause the other person to feel insecure with where they stand.
This inconsistency can be tricky to resolve straight away, but by monitoring how we speak to our partners, we can be aware of when our thoughts, moods, and external circumstances alter how we speak to one another.
• We’re too afraid to tell our partners what we need and want;
We often assume our partners are mindreaders. It’s easy, particularly in long-term relationships, to get into a rhythm where you know each other well. Much can be communicated through a glance, touch or energy shift. But it’s still your responsibility to tell your partner your needs directly, especially if they’re not meeting these needs.
Get into a habit of directly telling your partner what you need and want, and ask your partner will likely find themselves doing the same. If you find the idea of this hard, then you may be used to putting other people’s needs before your own. If so, work on your confidence and desire to please others, so you feel better able to ask for your own needs to be met, rather than becoming irritated and arguing about it when things have gone ignored for too long.
Communication is Key
The fundamental factor that all four points have in common is communication. How we communicate what we want and how we feel determines whether a relationship works or doesn’t. In relationships, we’ve got to balance not saying things that are picking at small irritants while being able to speak up and voice our concerns. When we love and offer ourselves and others respect, this balance becomes a lot easier to manage.