“Communication is the key to any relationship”. It sounds cliché but it’s true. Although it’s really easy to tell people that communication is important in a healthy relationship but it’s not as easy to explain how to communicate. And if we’re never taught how to use this key, then we’ll never be able to open the door to healthy communication. Relationship communication skills don’t come easy for everyone. Some couples will have to work on their techniques for years. But over time, they will be able to speak openly and honestly with one another. Use the guidelines below for improving communications skills in your relationship and connect better with your partner.
Use “I” statements
One problem couples run into when they are arguing is attacking each other. By using “I” statements, you take the pressure off your partner. Instead of saying “YOU did this and it made me angry”, try communicating “I feel that when THIS occurred, my feelings were hurt.” See the difference? You made the problem your own, instead of attacking your partner. This simple, yet effective technique prevents either of you from going into attack-mode or becoming needlessly defensive with one another.
Pick Up on Nonverbal Cues
If your partner says “my day was fine” but their tone sounds irritated, upset, or angry, then there may be something else that they’re feeling but not yet ready to communicate. Communication is not just about the words we say but also how we say them. Our tone and our attitude give away a lot more than just the words coming out of our mouths. And it’s honestly a skill to be able to pick up on those nonverbal cues. Look at your S.O.’s facial expressions, their hands (are they trembling/fidgety?), their body language (Are they making eye contact? Are they crossing their arms?) and listen to their tone of voice.
Make Communication Fun
Communicating is how you talk about family and financial matters, problems and their solutions, and how you and your spouse make decisions. But, don’t forget that communicating should be fun, too. Talking with your partner means sharing funny stories, dreams for the future, and sharing in deep conversation. These are the moments that create a deeper emotional connection and boost oxytocin and dopamine. Always make time to check in with your spouse verbally, whether the conversation that follows is serious or silly.
Don’t Try to Read Their Mind
Sometimes you can tell just by looking at someone what they may be feeling. It’s not always easy to do this and let’s face it: as much as we want to be mind readers, we aren’t and shouldn’t have to be. So, if you’re not sure what your partner is feeling, ask them. If you’re the one holding things in and expecting your partner to read your mind, take a moment to appreciate the fact that your partner is making an effort by asking you what’s going on rather than ignoring the problem. Do your best to let them know how you’re feeling when you’re ready to open up about it. It’s not healthy to say you’re okay when you’re not and then get mad at your partner for not figuring it out. Be honest about how you feel to the best of your ability, and try to express it in a healthy way before it gets to the point where it blows up and someone says something they regret. Being direct is always better than being passive aggressive.
If your partner is the one who is guilty of being passive aggressive, try letting them know that it’s not really helpful for either of you when they’re not honest about how they feel. Of course, it’s awesome when we know each other so well that we can practically read each other’s’ thoughts and know exactly what to say in the right moments, but we’re human and we may make mistakes sometimes or miss cues that seem obvious to our partner or vice versa. It’s important that you both make an effort to better understand each other and be patient with each other, too.
Don’t Interrupt or be Distracted
Being interrupted is the quickest way to escalate an argument. During communication in your relationship, it’s important that both parties feel they have a chance to speak and to be heard. It may feel tempting to squeeze in your own opinion while your partner is still talking, especially if you feel they have a fact wrong, but it is important to wait. Giving your partner your attention while staying focused and connected shows your partner respect.
Don’t text and talk. Whether your spouse is telling you a joke or revealing a deep family secret, you should be giving them your undivided attention. Put away distracting technology, mute or turn off the television, and lean in towards your partner. This will show them you care about their information. Nodding and maintaining eye-contact are both excellent ways of showing your partner you are listening. You can create a spot in your home where the electronics can be placed to limit the technological distractions.
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