Do you and your partner struggle to communicate? If so, just know you are not alone! Communication is one of the top ten problems that couples struggle with and complain about.
When it comes to communication in a relationship, learning effective communication is a journey, and a skillset that is continuously developed over time. Be patient and give your spouse grace, you are both growing and learning. Overall continually working towards effective communication can allow your relationship to have deeper connection, and bring forth overall satisfaction in your relationship.
Effective communication is one of the most important aspects of a healthy relationship. Communication is how we express our thoughts, feelings, ideas, expectations, and it is also how we resolve conflict. Communication is not just about exchanging information, it is also about listening. In efforts to improve communication in your relationship, one must discover how to listen. Learning to truly listen can bring forth understanding, increase trust, improve conflict resolution skills, and increase emotional intimacy. Being able to fully understand what your partner is conveying, and making sure that your partner feels understood before a response is important to effective communication.
If you find yourself running into communication conflicts again and again, there are a several strategies you can use to develop and maintain healthy communication:
1. Listen actively
First things first, PAY ATTENTION. When your partner is speaking, don’t pick up your phone, don’t gaze off, pay attention. Give your partner your full attention, and make an effort to truly understand their perspective. Don’t listen with the intent to respond, listen with the intent to understand. It is important to avoid interrupting or getting defensive (shifting the focus to your own perspective) when your partner is sharing something with you.
2. Be honest and open
Honesty is the foundation of trust, and trust is essential for a healthy relationship. Be open and honest with your partner about your thoughts, feelings, and needs, and encourage them to do the same.
3. Avoid blaming and criticizing
Focus on the problem, not the person. In an effort to find a solution, work together not against each other, ultimately you want to find a solution that benefits everyone, and blaming and criticizing will only create more problems.
4. Be respectful
Show your partner respect by valuing their opinions, being considerate of their feelings, and treating them with kindness and understanding.
5. Give and take
Balance is the key to a healthy relationship, it’s all about give and take. Be willing to compromise and make sacrifices for your partner, while also being assertive and standing up for yourself. Finding a healthy balance of give and take showcases one’s level of care for another. Be careful not to confuse this with “tit for tat” where you keep score of who does what, which can actually lead to other issues.
6. Take (and make) time to talk
It’s the little things! Throughout your day you are each existing in your own world, things are happening, and you have thoughts and feelings around those things. Set aside time each day to talk with your partner, even if it’s just a few minutes. This will help you stay connected and on the same page.
7. Seek help if necessary
If you are having trouble communicating effectively with your partner, seek help from a couples therapist and/or work through your personal challenges with your individual counselor. They can provide tools and strategies for improving communication and resolving conflicts. (If you’re in Texas, I’m happy to help!)
When it comes to communication in a relationship, learning effective communication is a journey, and a skillset that is continuously developed over time. Be patient and give your spouse grace–you are both growing and learning. Committing to continually working towards effective communication can help you and your partner to develop deeper connection and result in increased overall satisfaction in your relationship.