Some sex, love and relationships issues need an expert opinion. Today, Joanna Seidel, an individual, couple and family therapist, weighs in.

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How can a couple overcome having two very different communication styles?

I believe that most couples [involve] two different communication styles. One individual may be more emotional in their communication; another partner may be more passive or avoident. Different communication styles also become more evident when couples have children together, or have to make decisions such as buying a house.

I think when you enter a relationship, this is inevitable. The most important [thing] in a relationship is that you’re willing to shift, to move and develop insight into the way you are communicating. When an individual is immovable – meaning that they have no ability to shift towards the middle – this becomes a huge problem, possibly resulting in a breakdown in the relationship. We have to appreciate different communication styles. We can always explore our partner's communication [by saying things] like "Help me understand your experience.”

What should someone do if their partner is resistant, and says "I don't want to talk about this”?

It’s a real problem if a partner is resistant to communication. It could be a sign that he or she is shutting down or withdrawing from the relationship.

It’s also important to evaluate your own style of communication. For example, are you too loud, too critical, too argumentative or inflexible? Perhaps you can try changing or twisting your style of communication to be more thoughtful and considerate, [which] will leave an opening for your partner to feel comfortable communicating. Shifts in yourself may [bring] change from your other half.

I would be also cautious of persisting [with] the communication in the middle of an argument. That’s a time when your partner may not want to answer your questions, or may resist a discussion to purposely not elevate the argument.

joanna-picJoanna Seidel Professional Counselling Services is a multi-service agency providing individual, family, child, marriage and group therapy to the community. Practicing from a strengths-based perspective, Joanna is committed to helping her clients work towards positive outcomes by facilitating change.