Have you and your partner been having a hard time communicating about issues in a healthy way? Do you find yourself getting upset at certain things he does without being able to express this to him appropriately? Do you feel like you’re at your wit’s end when it comes to trying to work things out? Maybe you’ve just entered into a new relationship, and you want to tell him how you feel about him but can’t gather up the courage to do so.
If any of these issues are ones you’re having in a current relationship, you’ve found the right place. It’s important that communication be a priority at all times during a relationship if you want to make it work. Sometimes we get so bogged down with personal problems regarding school, work, and hobbies, that we start to ignore the functioning of our relationships. Sure, we still communicate with our spouses but what are we really saying? Do we tend to just talk about day-to-day stuff, like who gets to take the kids to school or what new movies are out? While discussing these topics counts as communication, it’s not necessarily the kind of communication that fixes problems within a relationship.
So, how do you get into the helpful, productive type of communication that all the advice columns talk about? Here are some tips.
- Listen – Actually listen. Don’t just sit there when your partner is venting to you and let it go in one ear and out the other. Don’t sit there and think of how to respond to his claims or how to turn it around on him. Just breathe deeply and really try to take in his concerns and see them as they are. Try to understand why he feels the way he does. Likewise, you need to get him to agree to do the same for you. Talking over each other when trying to discuss an important matter will only lead to escalating drama and is not a healthy way to deal with your problems!
- Be honest – If you believe that the relationship is worthwhile and something you want to keep alive, there is no reason to lie or withhold information. This is not to say that you have to share every single thought with your lover, but if you feel like something is a problem, approach them about it! A strong relationship is built on communication, and the way to get it to that point is to continue focusing on that communication. Lying to your partner or keeping significant secrets from them is going to lead some messy situations. Chances are, the lie will come out at some point, and someone will end up hurt. If the lie doesn’t destroy your relationship, it will at least be detrimental or cause trust issues in the long run. It is hard enough to maintain a healthy marriage without problems like that.
- Enter the discussion with a clear head – Don’t attempt to communicate about important issues when upset. If you’re raging to the point of pretty much foaming at the mouth, run a hot bath. Do some deep breathing exercises. It’s hard to get much accomplished if you and your partner enter a conversation spewing vile at each other. It’s hard to turn an argument into a fruitful discussion so try to bring up a problem when you’re both in a calm state of mind. If things start to get heated, both of you need to take a break from the conversation before things get worse.
- Be willing to compromise – Demanding your partner do exactly as you say is not a good way to approach a problem. You and him both need to be willing to work together to find solutions that are agreeable to each of you. It is not fair to expect him always to concede to you, nor is it fair for him to expect that of you. Relationships require compromise to ensure that both parties are happy.
- Do not attack one another – Making personal insults toward each other is not going to fix the problem at hand. In fact, doing this is a quick way to end any attempt at healthy communication. If he brings up a valid point about your behavior, acknowledge it. Don’t turn around and immediately talk about every aspect of his behavior that you dislike. Make it apparent that you are going to work on your own behavior, then bring up any problems you might have.
- Don’t forget about body language – This tip is a good one to keep in mind. If you can’t look at your boyfriend or husband while talking to them, it’s going to take away from the quality of the conversation. Maintain eye contact and speak in an even tone. If you start to feel upset and as if your jaw has stiffened (a common reaction to feelings of anger), take a break from the conversation. Using aggressive hand gestures should be avoided at all costs as well.
These are merely a few tips for approaching the topic of communication within a relationship. For this advice to work, both partners need to agree to these terms. If you are the only one working to communication in an effective manner within the relationship, you may want to consider whether the person you’re with is worth your time. These guidelines need to be followed by both people to ensure an equal footing between the two. Good luck!
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