It's Good to Talk
The key to a meaningful, close relationship is communication. Communication and quality relationships tend to influence each other, so poor communication tends to predict relationship problems. The inability to communicate at an emotional level can cause or enhance most relationship problems.If you can't communicate on more than a day-to-day level then many feelings and emotions may go unheard - this can lead to arguments, relationship problems and even the end of a relationship. So do find time to communicate with your partner, it could help improve your relationship, and help solve relationship problems.
The basic rules of good communication
5 guidelines to help improve your communication with your partner:
1. Realise that you own your feelings. Don't blame others for how you feel. For example if your partner's behaviour has made you upset say "I feel upset at what has happened" as opposed to "You've made me feel upset."
2. Work out what your feelings are. Are they reasonable or unreasonable? When you feel cross or angry at something, direct your emotions at the relevant focus. For example, if you've had bad days at work don't take it out on your partner. Your partner may think they've done something wrong when they haven't.
3. Look for positive things rather than dwell on the negative. Comment positively and sincerely to your partner eg "I really enjoyed dinner tonight" or "I love your sense of humour". Don't blame, accuse, nag or give commands to your partner.
4. Be as open and honest as you can be.
5. Take into consideration that just as you have feelings, so does your partner!
Make a date!
Plan to spend at least 15 minutes a day communicating with each other. This doesn't include watching the TV! Also plan to spend at least one or two sessions of one hour of uninterrupted time together each week. Make a date with your loved one. This may sound strange, but it is a sensible, guaranteed way to make sure you have quality time to communicate properly with each other.
Improve your listening skills
Listening skills are the most basic and essential way to improve communication with your partner. To help you become a better listener:
- Give your full attention to your partner. Let them talk without interruption. Hold back on opinions (unless they are asked for) and criticisms.
- Watch your body language - frowns, sarcastic smiles etc all give negative feedback. Sit still, have 'open' body language (uncross your arms and legs) and listen attentively.
- Do you understand what your partner is saying? Check occasionally by repeating back, in your own words, what you have heard. This shows you are truly listening to, are interested in, and understand what they have to say.
Positive arguments - how to express negative emotions
Even happy couples clash from time to time and have their arguments or express negative emotions. In fact, ignoring angry, upset feelings is considered to be more dangerous then not expressing them. Arguments can be positive if they are constructive, not destructive. Here's how:
- Good anger is explaining how your partner's behaviour angers you, in a tactful, considerate and non-judgmental way. Bad anger is when you blame your partner, rather than your partner's behaviour. Always include yourself in the problem eg "I don't think my feelings are considered often enough," instead of saying "You're inconsiderate all the time".
- Make sure you explain what the real problem is; otherwise you will find it hard to have a positive result. For a clear understanding of what you are both trying to solve, set an agenda and brainstorm ideas. See if you can come up with any ideas that you can agree or compromise on.
- Finish the argument on a positive note with a successful conclusion. If you can't reach one then agree to talk about the subject another time soon - this is particularly relevant if you need time to calm down or to reflect on what has been said. However, you may find that sometimes you simply can't agree, but learn to accept this and be tolerant about it. Learning to agree to disagree can be a compromise.
- Remember, if you do say things you don't mean in the heat of moment do apologise immediately.
Learning to communicate in new ways will require changes. Look for ideas and inspiration in relationship building books or seek help from a trained counsellor.