Relationship Fitness

S13 Communication Basics E1: Words That Connect

In “Relationship Workout for Men,” Season 13 Episode 1 titled “Words That Connect,” Vince embarks on exploring Communication, the core area pivotal to resolving issues within relationships without drama. He stresses that effective communication is key to finding mutually agreeable solutions and minimizing conflict. Acknowledging that while most understand the importance of communication, actual execution during difficult conversations is where many falter. Vince sets the stage for a deep dive into communication basics, aiming to equip listeners with the foundational skills needed for strong and healthy dialogues in their relationships. Through this episode, Vince intends to transform the daunting “We need to talk” into an opportunity for growth and connection.

Welcome to Relationship Workout for Men, a podcast dedicated to helping men be intentional in choosing a better partner, and being a better partner for the person they choose.

Season 13 Episode 1: Words That Connect

Next, we turn our attention exploring Relationship Workout core area Core #12: Communication, discussing how to answer the foundational question: Can you two discuss and resolve issues without drama?

So, why is Communication a Core Strength Area?

The answer is simple: Issues inevitably come up in all relationships. It can be difficult or even impossible to resolve them if you two can’t communicate effectively. Effective communication ultimately finds mutually agreeable resolutions to issues, with minimal to no drama and conflict. Put another way, if you can’t discuss and resolve issues without a lot of conflict and drama, then you’re at risk of having a very troubled relationship.

Yes, I think everyone innately understands this to be true and a rather obvious point.

I also think it’s fair to say that communications is a very rich topic with lots of material to cover. Therefore, we’re devoting three seasons to discussing communications:

  • In this season, season 13: Relationship Workout Communication Basics, we’ll discuss ten basic communication insights everyone would do well to understand, laying the foundation for being a stronger communicator.
  • In Season 14: Relationship Workout Communication Skills, we’ll discuss ten communication skills you can deploy to be a better communicator, leveraging the ten communication basics.
  • Then in Season 15: Ten Communication Topics, we’ll apply communication basics and skills discussed in seasons 13 and 14 to talk through a real life relationship situation I actually experienced applying ten potential topics to discuss when having what can be a difficult conversation.

Okay, with that organization, let me make another perhaps obvious point (although a point I didn’t realize until well into my forties): It can be rather humbling to realize how little we men know about being a strong communicator, much less about how to put this knowledge into real-world execution to discuss the tough stuff with our partners.

Put another way, although everyone innately understands effective communications is important to any healthy relationship, the trick is how to be a strong communicator, especially during what turn out to be difficult conversations. Often times easier said than done.

It happens — an event that makes most men cringe. You hear the dreaded words from her tense mouth: “We need to talk …” Ugh.

Or she has done (or not done) something that just pisses you off. Like a broken record on constant scratching rewind, your head fills with negativity. Now what? Do you sit down and tell her why you’re upset, or do you just keep it to yourself? Meanwhile, your mind just keeps spinning. 

Yes, an inevitable issue hits you like a bag of rocks to the gut.

If your relationship is new, then perhaps until now you two have been romping through those first honeymoon weeks basking in the after-sex, sweat-laden sheets: great fun, great connection, great sex. You may even be describing her as your “soulmate” or, at a minimum, your buddies may be wondering where you disappeared to? Then, BAM! The first conflict emerges.

Or if you’ve been in the relationship for a while, perhaps this issue is just one of a string of disagreements you two have been dealing with for quite some time. Perhaps you’re even feeling like finally throwing in the towel; she may be sexy and great in bed, but enough is enough! Or she may very well be saying the same thing about you! 

Or perhaps the sheets cooled off long ago, and issues keep piling up, unresolved, pushing you two emotionally further and further apart.

Regardless, every relationship — whether young and fresh or old and on the verge of being busted — you two will have to deal with issues. This means you two will have to talk and figure out what’s going on. 

In fact, until someone perfects the art of mind reading, signals inevitably will get crossed. And unless you two are complete clones of each other, experiencing every one of life’s moments from the womb to the present in exactly the same way, then differences of opinion will exist. Now what?

Yes, of course, we all know that effective communication is important for any healthy relationship. Yet have you ever really thought about what it means to be a strong communicator? Did your father or mother sit you down and explain the keys to effective communication? Probably not.

Have you taken classes on how to be a better communicator in your intimate relationship? Probably not.

Have you ever had to talk about issues with a partner only to find the discussion escalate into an argument, leaving you both feeling exhausted and disconnected from each other? Probably so.

Regardless, do you feel absolutely confident that you can apply strong communication techniques to every difficult conversation you might encounter? 

The thing is how you two communicate during those potentially challenging conversations marks perhaps one of the most fundamental tests for a strong partnership. Do you two communicate in a way that is comfortable for both of you, ultimately leading to mutually agreeable resolutions? Or do disagreements tend to spiral into tense arguments or resentment, far too often not resolving anything?

After this season and the next two on communications, my hope is you will pick up or brushed up on at least a few to many insights to help you be a stronger communicator in your relationship. 

But before discussing the first communication basic, I’d like to remind you of an adage most of us have heard said or said ourselves as kids: “Sticks and stones may break my bones … but words will never hurt me.” Remember?

What happened? When we were kids just goofing on the playground, these words easily rolled off our tongues in courageous defiance (unless, of course, the other kid was a lot bigger than you.).

Then we grew up, fell in love, and something somewhat strange happened: words from our person started to hurt us. We seem to grant our lovers a menu of things they can say or do that can drive pain directly into our chest, as if they are 250-pound NFL running backs headed north to south, with us squarely in their paths.

What gives? Words are only words. Actions are only actions. No bones need to break.

Regardless of what she may say, keep your cool. Don’t let words hurt you. If you do, you’ll just expose your soft under-belly vulnerabilities. 

Besides, even if she calls you the biggest ass on the planet, you’ll live. Not to mention, perhaps she has a point. Maybe you do need to clean up your act a bit, and her hostility is a last attempt to breach some sense of kindness into that stubborn skull of yours?

So on that note, let’s turn our attention to Relationship Workout Communication Basic #1: Men and Women are Different, the topic of our next episode.

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