Communication Breakdown: How to Bust it and Improve Your Relationship

Published: January 9, 2023

I don’t know about you, but around this time of year, I see a lot of “new year, new you!” type of messaging. 

Much of it is focused on choosing better habits, such as exercise, eating right, and taking steps to better overall mental, emotional and physical health. One thing I don’t see enough of is choosing better habits when it comes to communicating with your partner, which is huge! 

Communication is the Backbone of Relationships 

Communication can be difficult when trying to talk to anyone–children, family, colleagues, people in line at the grocery store… the list goes on. But many couples find it especially difficult to talk to each other when it comes to their relationship and sex.

This can be especially true when we want (and expect) our partners to just know what we want, without having to ask or talk to them about it. You might want your partner to know what you want so badly that it’s painful when it doesn’t happen. In that moment, it might feel like, “Wait a second, shouldn’t he/she know this already? We’ve been together for (fill in the blank), he should know this!  “He should know that I want to talk before we have sex,” or “He should know that leaving his clothes on the floor pisses me off.”

The truth is, your partner can’t read your mind. And you can’t read theirs. As well as you both may know each other, trouble can emerge when we expect them to magically know what we want/do what we want. 

Even as much training as I have, I still have to make an effort to communicate well with my husband and family. With this in mind, I wanted to share some steps you can take to get started on the right track! 

First Things First: Consider the Communication Setup 

Timing is important: Don’t have the talk while you’re having sex or attempting to have sex. Also, right after a long day of work is bad timing. Eat dinner, make sure no one’s hangry, sit down on the couch, get comfortable, and have a talk.

Connect with touch: Holding your partner’s hand or resting a hand on his arm is a great way to physically convey connection.

Stay Positive: Remember that the ultimate goal is increased connection and bonding with your partner.

Recruit your partner for your team: Everything’s better when you have help. Whether it’s helping you with the techniques that I teach, holding down the fort while you’re working on yourself, or supporting you emotionally – your partner’s role is incredibly important.

Try This Communication Technique: The Sandwich Method 

A communication technique that I use frequently with my clients (and just about everywhere!) is something I call the Sandwich Method. It works well in romantic relationships, with kids, talking to bosses, just about everywhere. I’ll share with you how you can use it to better communicate with your partner. 

First, don’t throw a communication rock. I think of this rock as a complaint or a statement that kind of hurts and doesn’t offer anything positive. Nobody likes getting a rock thrown at them. Examples of this might include, “You never initiate sex!” or “You come home from work smelling bad.” 

Instead, make a sandwich (because everyone likes a sandwich.) Here’s how: 

First (top slice of bread): say something positive that offers praise or a compliment.

Example: “I really appreciate that you work hard for our family all day.”

Next (middle): clearly and kindly state the problem. The middle is the tough part but you can make it easier to digest by making it about you and your needs, and not placing blame on your partner.

Example: “When you come home I can smell that you’ve been working hard.”

Last (bottom slice of bread): say something positive and instructive so your partner hears that you love them and they understand clearly how to make the situation better.

“I would love it if you would shower when you get home so I can snuggle up to you.”

My husband recognizes when I do this and has pointed it out before. As you use this method with your partner, you may both start to recognize it when you’re speaking, and that’s ok, that’s the goal! This means that you and your partner love each other enough to communicate in a way that protects both of your feelings, and that’s incredibly important for having good communication and a good relationship. 

If you’re looking for more ways to better communicate with your partner, you can buy my book for women looking to boost their love life, schedule an appointment to see me in real life, or  schedule email or video sessions and work with me online

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Hi, I'm

Dr. Lauren Crigler.

I specialize in pelvic floor therapy, and have spent over a decade helping women have sex without pain.

I’m here to help you stop having pain and start really enjoying your sex life.

My favorite part of what I do is helping women reconnect with their partner. This isn’t just a job for me; it’s a passion!

Are you ready to look forward to Friday nights? If you want to have sex without vaginal or pelvic pain, you can work with me via professional coaching.