Communication Tips for Couples
Many of us did not grow up with good role models regarding how to be a great partner in a relationship. This means you may not have had a good role model for how to treat your partner or what effective communication looks or sounds like. And so, you find yourself hoping things will get better over time but not really knowing what you can do. This leaves your relationship in a precarious spot.
The key to a healthy relationship is intentional and respectful communication. If you are currently working toward improving your relationship, here are some communication tips that will help the two of you grow closer:
Give Each Other Your FULL Attention
We live in the age of technology, which means most of us have our head buried in our phone or computer just about 24/7. When we’re distracted by devices we aren’t present for our partner, we miss the nuances and bids for connection. This is the top complaint I hear in most relationships, that one or both people in the relationship spend more time with their device than they do talking with each other.
When you are speaking with one another, make sure to give your full attention to what the other person is saying. Turn the TV off, put the phone down, and make eye contact giving your partner your undivided attention.
There are those relationships that suffer because one person or both has broken trust in one way or another. Or perhaps you’ve hurt your partner during an argument or both of you escalated in a disagreement and yelled at each other. Take responsibility for your part in the relationship discord. Apologize, admit to your mistakes and commit to trying harder.
Request, Don’t Criticize
When angry, hurt or feeling frustrated its easy to criticize our partner with statements like, “You never help me…” or “You always forget…” These are not helpful and your partner will either shut down or argue and defend themselves, which won’t help either of you get what you want. Instead leave out the words “always” or “never” and make a request. A request could sound something like “Hey babe, could you help me out and …” or “I’d really love it if tonight you could…” This creates a more collaborative, TEAM, environment for your relationship to thrive.
It’s not easy to hear someone say what they don’t like, criticize you or say negative things about your behavior but resist the urge to cut off your partner when they are saying something you don’t like or agree with. Instead of defending yourself, meet your partner with questions that show your genuine curiosity about wanting to understand how you hurt your partner so you can do better and therefore you can both do better as a couple.
Keep A Calm Voice and Tone
Yelling and shouting is not a form of effective, helpful communication. Do your best to refrain from raising your voice at all costs and definitely don’t swear at your partner or call them names. It may sound too simplistic, but it really does help to stop and take a slow, deep breath when you feel your anger rising. Make a plan ahead of time with your partner that you may need a “time out”. Share with them you need a time out and you’ll come back in 30 minutes to continue the conversation more calmly. Let your partner take the time out. During a time out make sure both of you are taking deep breaths, take a walk, journal, do some intense exercises such as push ups.
When your partner is talking, you should be hearing every word they say, not thinking about how you are going to respond. Listen to understand, not to respond. Listening is a skill that you can develop over time just like learning a new language.
If you follow these communication tips you’ll have a much better chance of connecting with your partner and improving your relationship immediately. If you’d like to learn and practice better communication and relationship skills email me today for a consultation. [email protected]