Key Strategies To Make Communication Easier In Your Relationship
Most people know that they should be communicating openly and honestly with their partner in a relationship. However, when you’re living a busy lifestyle with adult responsibilities, it’s easy to let communication with your partner fall by the wayside. When you don’t communicate about your thoughts and emotions in a relationship, it can lead to big misunderstandings and arguments later on - something everyone wants to avoid. From the very beginning of your relationship, communication should be something you work on actively.
Set aside time for communication.
If open, honest communication doesn’t come naturally to you in a relationship, one of the best ways to make sure you and your partner are having important conversations is to schedule them. It may feel a little silly at first, but once you make it a routine, you’ll see how helpful it can be. Designating a certain day of the week to just sit down and talk about how you are feeling with no distractions ensures that you don’t bottle problems up or let major challenges go unaddressed.
Focus on listening as well as talking.
Scheduling regular communication prevents you from avoiding it. For this strategy to work, however, it’s very important that you make this a safe space. Don’t approach it from a place of piling on complaints or accusations to your significant other - this is just going to result in an argument and isn’t going to be productive. Approach every topic with an open mind, even if you disagree with your partner at first. When both partners feel heard, you’re going to be much more likely to find common ground and come to a productive conclusion, even if you don’t agree about everything. If you feel that your partner isn’t listening to you, don’t pick a fight. Instead, take a deep breath, and take a break to calm down if you’re feeling angry. Then, explain why you don’t feel heard or supportive. It’s important for both partners to be open to feedback from the other so your communication skills can improve.
Ask for details.
One of the best ways to make sure you are communicating effectively with your partner is to ask questions. Whether they realize it consciously or not, it shows that you are interested and care about their feelings. Asking for details, even small, seemingly insignificant ones, actually gives you insight into the way your partner is thinking and feeling, so it’s much easier to empathize with them. Asking questions also shows your partner that you are really listening to what they are saying. Make a habit of doing this in all of your conversations, not just the serious ones, and you’ll find that your communication improves drastically.
Prep what you’re going to say ahead of time.
If you tend to get anxious in difficult conversations with your partner, preparing ahead of time can make a big difference. One great way to do this is to express your feelings through writing on your own before you go into a conversation about difficult topics. This gives you more time to really think through each point you need to make, and you might find you are actually more articulate in writing. If you are struggling with communication, have both partners write out how they’re feeling and then exchange notes. This makes a great foundation for a productive conversation.
Put the phones away.
If either of you is feeling distracted when you’re talking to each other, your communication is quickly going to fall by the wayside. After all, how frustrating is it when you’re trying to talk to someone and they’re looking at a text message on their phone? To prevent any distractions from getting in the way, put both of your phones in another room and silence them while you’re talking. Turn the TV and music off as well so you can focus totally on each other.
Know when it is and isn’t a good time to bring something up.
If you have something important you need to talk about, it can be tempting to just bring it up whenever it crosses your mind in an attempt to get it out into the open. And while you don’t want to bottle things up long term, it’s also important to think about the mood your partner is in and the challenges they are having before bringing up a difficult situation. Look for a time when your partner is relaxed and open, instead of distracted or frustrated by something else, like work or family responsibilities. You can apply this to scheduling your communication as well. Plan to have your conversations on days when you both have work off, instead of when you’re in the middle of a big project.
Watch your body language.
Communicating is about more than what you’re saying - it’s about how you’re acting. Your body language with your partner while you’re talking can actually make a big difference in terms of how well the conversation goes. Don’t physically close yourself off by crossing your arms or turning away from them. Instead, sit close to them and make an appropriate amount of eye contact. If your partner likes to be touched, small amounts of touch can be incredibly helpful as well.
Don’t shy away from therapy.
If both of you are actively trying to make time for communication and you’re still encountering problems, it may help to go to couples’ therapy. In addition to having a time scheduled to talk about your feelings and issues, you’ll have the added benefit of a trained third party to work through things with. They can identify where you’re going wrong and give you some resources to help you work through the problems.
If you and your partner are struggling with communication, don’t get discouraged. Every relationship has its ups and downs, particularly when one or both partners are dealing with stressful situations outside of the relationship. Oftentimes just taking a new approach can help you fix the problem, so you can develop a better understanding of your partner.