Most people are aware of the benefits of mastering communication skills in their romantic relationships, yet this is often more difficult to do than it sounds. One major reason for this is that many of us have entrenched communicative habits that we have held for an entire lifetime.
Communication has a huge impact on the way that we relate to others. Not talking about issues that we have can lead to a build up of resentment, whereas on the other hand communicating incorrectly can cause hurt feelings and a rift between partners in a couple. Here are a few simple tips to help you start communicating better today.
One of the easiest tips to follow – and perhaps the most essential – is to be open and completely honest with your partner. It is very easy to hide negative feelings in a range of different situations, but it is also true that this is a one way street to resentment.
Many of us avoid being honest out of concern that we may rock the boat in our relationship. We may agree to our partner meeting up with an ex in a platonic way because we do not want to be the “jealous” boyfriend or girlfriend. We may keep quiet after receiving some harsh words from a partner because we do not want to worsen their mood.
In both of these examples, we are hiding our real, very natural emotions that should absolutely be expressed. Talking about the negative emotions we have not only releases them and helps lift our mood, but also helps our partner understand us and helps the couple reach a compromise together.
When talking about what you feel, however, it is critical to approach the matter in the right way. Although our feelings may have been hurt, it is important to avoid getting emotional about the situation in hand, as this can lead to heated arguments, fall outs and even more negative feelings that need to be worked on.
Instead, try to stay cool and state only the facts. It is also very important to avoid using accusatory language. Instead, say “I feel upset when… ” or “I don’t like it when… ” This is placing the focus on your own feelings rather than accusing your partner of wrongdoing. This will make them more receptive to what you have to say.
One of the problems that many couples face – incidentally one of the main reasons why many end up seeking relationship therapy – is that when one partner wants to talk, the other one does not want to listen.
This is an important point, as without each partner truly listening and trying to understand the other, there is no communication. Both partners being willing to talk and hear what the other has to say without getting defensive is necessary for a relationship to work.
Approaching the conversation in a non accusatory manner is the first way to get your partner to listen to you. If you have to vent any angry emotions, do it to a close and trustworthy friend or family member first, or write your feelings down in a journal in order to clear your head and gather your thoughts.
When you do talk about your problems, encourage your partner to listen to you by showing that you are listening to him or her. If your partner gets defensive immediately when you broach a topic, let them react and acknowledge whatever they have to say. Doing this consistently will help ease them into a two way discussion that has the potential to reach a constructive conclusion.
If you want to learn how to communicate better with your partner, consider seeking out relationship therapy. Contrary to popular belief, relationship therapy is a usefulness helping couples communicate more effectively before real problems arise. In addition to your own efforts, professional guidance can really make a difference to your level of relationship happiness.