Communication is the glue that holds all relationships together.
However, when it comes to romantic relationships, creating and maintaining quality communication can be especially tough. Couples often develop their own unique love language, but this type of communication is rarely openly addressed.
In fact, it’s quite possible that what you consider obvious communication with your partner is completely lost on them.
Focusing on improving your communication is a lifelong task. There’s no such thing as perfecting it. Life changes, you change, and you may face obstacles such as one partner needing treatmentfor alcohol abuse, a death in the family, or some other type of trauma. Throughout these challenges, communication can help you feel connected and able to take on whatever obstacles come your way.
How can you start improving your communication now? Here are a few techniques to adapt and adopt:
1:Be honest with your own communication faults.
Whether it’s passive aggressiveness, lack of transparency, or expecting your partner to “read your mind,” everyone can improve their communication. You likely already know your weaknesses. If not, it’s a dangerous zone to ask your partner about them—this can lead to fights and miscommunication. Instead, bring in a third party.
One of the most important jobs of a therapistis to help you learn one another’s love language. A therapist can be an un-biased third party and can help you explore communication techniques that will work best for you.
3:Understand your partner’s love language.
For example, one person might communicate by doing rather than saying. Someone else might be more comfortable writing things down, such as penning a letter to explain why they’re frustrated, rather than having a frank conversation. It’s important to know how you communicate as well as how your partner communicates.
4:Develop calming techniques to employ before communicating.
It’s rarely a good idea to start “communicating” when you’re enraged. Things that are said cannot be taken back. Although it’s not always easy, it’s important to learn how to be calm when communicating. These types of skills, such as deep breathing or walking away for a short amount of time, can be relationship-saving techniques. Every person is different. Determine whether you’re a fight, flight, or freeze type of person and use that knowledge to develop strategies to calm yourself in a tough situation.
5:Understand the basics of abusive verbal communication.
Verbal abuse isn’t always overt, such as calling someone names. It can also be subtle ways of undermining another person. In reality, most people have been guilty of “verbal abuse”at least one time in their life. Pinpointing what triggers this kind of response is the key to avoiding it.
6:Avoid accusatory language.
Starting sentences with “I feel” rather than “you do this” will help open the pathways to communication. Nobody wants to feel attacked or accused of always being at fault. Instead, your partner needs to hear how their actions or words made you feel.
7:Avoid using “always.”
Any time you say someone always or never does something, it’s bound to be an exaggeration. For instance, it’s probably not likely that your partner “never changes the diaper” (if that is the case and it’s not in an agreed upon breakup of household work, it’s time to re-work the arrangement). Instead, focus on concrete examples.
8:Compliment your partner at least once per day.
It doesn’t need to be a big compliment, but it does need to be genuine. Learning to communicate better isn’t just about figuring out how to better tell your partner you need help or that something needs to be fixed. People can easily start taking their partners for granted.
It can be assumed that something a person regularly does is appreciated—but do they know it? Pointing out what you appreciate about your partner doesn’t just make them feel good and acknowledged, but also feeds the relationship.
9:Set aside time to communicate without distractions.
It might feel easier to have a “serious” talk while Netflix is streaming, but too many distractions can make important items get lost in the mix. It doesn’t need to be a daily activity, but at least once a week is a must. It can be combined with a non-tech related activity, such as dinner.
Communication isn’t easy. In fact, it’s one of the most challenging aspects of a relationship and it doesn’t always get easier with time. It requires commitment, facing your own shortcomings, and learning how to adapt to another person’s style. However, if it’s a priority, it’s guaranteed to help streamline any relationship.
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