How many times have you heard that communication is key to a happy relationship? Probably dozens, hundreds of times even. It’s such a common answer because it’s the truth. Without sincere, regular, and open communication a relationship can never last. However, there are many different types of communication and different communication techniques. Each person and relationship will benefit from different strategies. So, if you’re struggling to communicate or struggling to get your partner to pen up, check out some helpful tips below.
How to Communicate Better in a Relationship
Probably one of the most important qualities to display when communicating is patience. Take the time to listen to and understand what the other person is trying to communicate, even if you are not ready or able to communicate back.
Don’t Stop at Difficult Issues
Once couples begin talking about difficult issues, they should continue talking about them; this decreases the likelihood of future arguments and disputes in the relationship. If you both shut down or one person walks away whenever faced with a challenging problem within the relationship, then it can never be resolved.
Don’t Be Critical
Do not criticize your partner without knowing what they mean, e.g., “you never did anything for me”; be aware that a person might have a different way of expressing themselves. Just because you perceive they haven’t directly been doing things for you, that doesn’t mean it’s true.
Be Consistent in Communication
Couples should always stay on track and be consistent in their communication; this keeps the relationship positive and stable. If you are trying to solve a particular problem, it’s not helpful or appropriate to bring up separate or irrelevant issues. Adding on other problems while dealing with something else will only end in an explosion.
Use the ‘Mental Model’ of Marital Communication
By understanding the beliefs and perspectives of both members of a relationship, couples can then better communicate with each other about their problems and disagreements. Communication is key to creating a mental model in which each person knows what the other person expects, wants, believes, and wants to share. Couples can help one another develop this model to be more effective in their relationships.
Therapy can help people better understand their own behavior and how it affects others, as well as showing them how to build better relationships by being more supportive, caring, and understanding. Interpersonal therapists work closely with couples in conflict over issues such as communication patterns in their relationship, how to resolve conflicts effectively, and more.
Similarly, marriage therapy aims to help partners better understand how they relate with each other, receive support from each other when they need it, and work together on problems in their relationship. Couples can learn how to deal better with difficult issues between themselves, and many people feel more comfortable or more open when there is an unbiased mediator during these conversations.
Learn Communication Patterns
Understanding the communication patterns of a partner helps couples understand why they argue over certain issues in their relationship. Each partner will have a different way of expressing themselves, and it’s important the other person recognizes this and knows how to properly respond. For example, if someone becomes shy or anxious when expressing feelings then it’s essential the other person displays patience and understanding in order to not shut the communication down or worsen the problem.
Understand the Other Perspective
If both partners do not understand each other’s perspectives, then it is difficult to have any discussion; this is because the partner cannot be completely heard. Research shows that couples have better outcomes when both partners are able to express their views and rephrase their partner’s words in a way that shows they understand. By understanding what your partner means, you can reach an effective solution to the problem.
Create Trust in Your Relationship
Trust takes time to build, but is important in maintaining good relationships and enabling open and honest communication. If you both sincerely trust one another, you will both better be able to express yourselves as well as listen.
While it’s easy to play the blame game, rarely does it ever make a problem better. In fact, blaming the other person for an issue will almost certainly drive a bigger wedge in your relationship. When faced with a problem in your relationship, don’t absolve yourself of blame and place all the responsibility on your partner. Most times, a problem occurs due to both in the couple making a mistake so be sure to accept you may be at fault as well.
Keep Your Problems at Home
So many people make the mistake of telling their friends and family about any problem they are having in their relationship. This only leads to the friends and family forming a bad and unfair opinion of your partner (which they will never forget), and your partner feeling hurt and betrayed when they find out you’ve been sharing your relationship problems. If you can easily express your feelings and relationship problems to those outside your relationship but not to the other person in the relationship, then your relationship will always fail. Keep your problems at home and the next time you feel the urge to express yourself to your friends or family, talk to your partner instead and fix whatever the issue is head-on. Your parents can’t solve a problem that can only be solved by you and your partner.
When you learn to effectively communicate, understand the other side, and be honest about how you are feeling, you’ll notice a drastic improvement in your relationship. If necessary, enlist the help of a therapist for you individually or as a couple. Having a professional involved is worth paying for if it’s going to make your relationship and life happier.