20 Communication Tips For Couples
Communication skills are a critical part of a strong relationship. Without good communication, there cannot be good understanding between partners. That is why trust, understanding and growth, all start with communication.
Communication must be not only strong, but also dynamic. People tend to think they only need to work on communication when they are having an argument, but this is not the case. Building strong communication skills should be a consistent effort, and used during both the good times and the bad times.
Knowing how to communicate during both times of high stress and great happiness is important, and there are different ways to communicate depending on the situation. Consider incorporating these communication tips into your relationship:
1. Express the good regularly.
Expressing the good and positive aspects in a relationship is important. When you express appreciation for your partner, you communicate to your partner what is important to you, what you value and what you enjoy having in the relationship. Communicating the good on a regular basis is a great way to maintain a strong and healthy relationship.
2. Know when to express the good.
Anytime you can express the things you appreciate about your relationship you should do it! Not only will this make your partner feel important and loved, but it will also encourage them to continue to to do the things that you appreciate the most.
3. Know how to express the good.
Whether it is via text message, phone call, conversation, or on a cake, your partner will appreciate hearing the things that they have done to make you feel special and valued. It is important however, to make sure that your sentiments are genuine and sincere. Sarcastic, double-sided or backhanded compliments will negatively affect how your partner feels, which will promote insecurity and distrust in your relationship.
4. Acknowledge improvements and efforts from your partner.
It is important to positively compare past vs. present experiences. For example, “I am really happy that you have listened to me when I showed you how to stack the dishes in the dishwasher” is much more encouraging than “I really like how you are stacking the dishes now, because the way you used to stack them was ridiculous!” – both communicate the same sentiment, but one promotes positive reflection, while the other has a tone of criticism.
5. Know where to express the good.
It is always best to express good things that you appreciate about your partner in positive environments. Environments with high stress or activity can be distracting. Make sure that you choose a moment when you have your partner’s undivided attention when you are expressing what you appreciate about them, so they can take it in and be present with you in the moment.
6. Remember to give credit to your partner for the good in your relationship.
Make sure you are giving credit to your partner! They may get bashful and say something like ‘it was no big deal’ or ‘I couldn’t have done it without you’. Make sure they do not talk themselves out of their good- encourage them to own it!
7. Express why the good was important to you.
When you are expressing the good things you appreciate about your partner, let them know why you appreciate them. Tell them how it makes you feel for them to do this, and let them know that you notice it and feel happy and loved when you see it.
8. Express The Bad Appropriately
In every relationship, there are going to be good moments and bad moments. Points of tension are inevitable in a relationship, and when something bad happens, it is okay to assert yourself and your perspective, as long as you do it respectfully.
9. Know your message.
Before any confrontation- good or bad, take a moment and reflect on your message. You want to make sure you understand the message you need your partner to hear, and that it is a fair and appropriate message to convey. Once you are confident that your message is clear and fair, make sure you communicate your message in a way your partner can understand and accept.
10. Consider when and where to express the bad.
Timing is so important when communicating, especially when you are expressing something unpleasant. It is best to catch things that are upsetting to you in the moment, and try your best to calmly explain why you are upset. Of course, sometimes this is not possible. Maybe you’re at a dinner party, or maybe your partner is distracted or upset about something else- so not every moment is a good moment to express the bad.
11. Do not drudge up the past.
It is important to find a good time to talk about things that are upsetting you. In the moment is not always possible, but you also do not want to wait too long. Drudging up the past is unfair to your partner. If they did not know something upset you at the time then how can they know now?
By waiting for long periods of time, you do not allow them to apologize for how they made you feel. You also take away their opportunity to correct the situation or reflect on the situation in the moment. It is best to express things that upset you as soon as appropriately possible, while also being respectful of setting and environment.
12. Know how to express the bad.
Knowing how to express the bad is a critical part of having your partner hear your message. If you express you feelings in an accusatory way, or a way that suggests blame, they are less likely to hear you. They will likely get defensive and shut down. While in the moment it may feel good to blow up in an angry way, it is more effective to approach such a conversation from a calm state.
13. Use “I” statements.
It can be helpful to use “I” statements, to express what you need, how you feel, and how you would like your partner to behave differently. Keeping the focus on explaining your feelings can help your partner empathize, which will help them understand how to be mindful of your feelings in the future.
14. Don’t expect change to happen all at once.
Change happens with time and progress. It is not reasonable to expect a person to immediately change how they operate only because you asked them to. It takes time, and it takes flexibility. If you are expressing a need from your partner, and they are making an honest effort to meet that need, be patient with them. If they are trying, they deserve to be credited for their effort.
15. Never communicate from a point of anger.
We cannot see a situation clearly when we are angry. If we try to communicate when we are angry, upset or frustrated in the moment, we may not be able to properly convey our message. We may not even know what we are angry about. Take time to cool off, think about your message, and relax. Then, communicate yourself in a calm but assertive way.
16. Be assertive, not aggressive.
It is important to know the difference between assertiveness and aggression. Assertiveness is asserting your needs and position in a firm but respectful way. Aggression is using words to attack or bully your partner into bending to your wants and needs. Aggressive tones only turn people off from listening to you. Assertive tones help you feel empowered, but also keep you in a reasonable light, which can help you and your partner find resolution together.
17. Be willing to compromise.
Not every situation will end in your favor, and not every argument will mean that you are in the right. It is important to not only know your message, but to also listen to your partner’s position and message in return. Both are equally important, and communication is not a tug-of-war. It is important to choose your battles, and be reasonable with finding resolution that works best for both you and your partner.
18. Argue to resolve, not to win.
Arguments are not competitions. They are not opportunities to dominate your partner. They are a means of presenting a problem and working with your partner to find a solution. When you communicate something to your partner, do so with the intention to find resolution together- not to get your way and not to have only your needs and expectations met. Enter every confrontation with an open mind and open heart.
19. Listen to your partner.
Your partner’s message is just as important as yours. When you are communicating with your partner, it is important to listen. Do not listen to respond, and do not listen to rebuttal. Listen to understand, and listen to empathize. When you can hear your partner, you can work together to find resolution. You can develop a better understanding of who your partner is and what they need.
20. Forgive your partner.
Once a message is delivered, and your partner expresses understanding and a willingness to accept your message and move forward with it, it is time to let the resentment go. If you see your partner making an honest effort to hear you and change their ways for you, then it is not fair to hold on to past grievances. Forgive your partner for the past when you see them trying to fix the present. This will create a stronger future.