If you need to improve communication skills in a relationship, that can feel like a big, overwhelming task. But it’s one that has to happen, because it makes every part of your relationship better. Without a doubt, communication is the most important skill to have in any relationship. Communication allows us to voice our basic needs to others and also provides opportunities to approach topics like sex and romance, stress management, and conflict resolution.
It’s crucial to a relationship — but it’s also a really easy thing to tweak. So don’t be stressed if you feel like you’re not communicating properly. Because the thing about communication that you need to remember is that it’s the little things that make a huge difference. Yes, it’s really important to be able to disagree and fight well. In fact, being able to fight in a compassionate way can save a relationship. But if your daily communication skills are on point, then actually those big conversations aren’t so scary. Because you know you have the skills to reach each other and you do it before any issue gets out of control.
So focus on the day-to-day things. Here are little ways you can make your communication skills a lot better:
1. Ask How They Are Daily
Check in every day. Asking “How are you? How was your day?” will not only keep you in touch and in sync, it’ll help keep you in the habit of communicating with each other.
2. Ask Open-Ended Questions
Communication is not just about talking about each other’s days and saying what you had to eat for lunch. It’s about being able to dig deep and get to know this person as well as you can. It’s not always easy to dig deep, especially for those who have never been comfortable talking about their feelings. And it’s not necessary to make every conversation a heart to heart.
There are ways to do this without pressuring your partner to spill their deepest secrets. For example, instead of asking yes or no questions like “Did you have a good day?” try asking more open-ended questions like, “How was your day?” Yes, they may respond with a brief non-answer (“good”, “fine”, “the same”), but asking open-ended questions gives them an opportunity to share more if they choose to. Keep in mind that not everyone opens up very easily. Be patient with your partner if they are not sharing all the time. We set boundaries around our emotions and everyone’s boundaries are different. So, be mindful and respectful of their emotional boundaries, and they should be equally mindful and respectful of yours.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
You know what they say about people who make assumptions… and when you’re in a relationship, jumping to conclusions about what your partner might have meant by something can be seriously damaging.
Do not assume you know what your partner’s intention is when they say something. If in doubt, ask. Anytime you are confused or unsure about anything your partner may say, ask them what they meant. Hopefully your partner will make an effort to clarify their intention so there are no misunderstandings between you.
4. Don’t Worry If Your Text Habits Change
When you’re in the honeymoon phase, it’s not unusual to want to constantly be around your new partner, whether that’s IRL or over text. But over time, your digital communication habits might change — and that’s OK.
If you and your partner text a lot, over time, the frequency of you or your partner’s responses may not be as immediate as they were in at the start or your relationship — and that is perfectly normal. The immediacy of texts will dissipate at times due to driving, work, and many other factors. You do not need to know why your partner doesn’t respond right away. You just need to be secure in knowing your partner will respond to a text if it is an emergency or if a response is needed.
5. Give Your Partner Your Full Attention
Don’t text and talk. Whether your partner is telling you a joke or revealing a deep family secret, you should be giving them your undivided attention.
Put away distracting technology, mute or turn off the television, and lean in towards your man. This will show them you care about their information. Nodding and maintaining eye-contact are both excellent ways of showing your partner you are listening.
6. Don’t Interrupt Your Partner
Being interrupted is the quickest way to escalate an argument. When communicating with your partner, it’s important that both parties feel they had a chance to speak and to be heard.
It may feel tempting to squeeze in your own opinion while your partner is still talking, especially if you feel they have a fact wrong, but it is important to wait. Giving your partner your attention while staying focused and connected shows your partner respect.
7. Don’t Nitpick
Little digs can build up. If you have a problem, say it. Don’t make little commends — they’re immature and they will slowly corrode your relationship.
If your partner is reaching out to you, be there to meet them. Couples try to get each other’s attention throughout the day, whether it’s for support, conversation, interest, play, affirmation, feeling connected or for affection. Each of these moments is an opportunity to connect with your partner. A person should look for someone who responds to them, or at least acknowledges them when they try to get their attention, because it shows that they are meeting your emotional needs —or at least trying to.
Whether it’s just talking about their day or trying to discuss big issues, recognize that they’re reaching out and meet them.
9. Learn To Argue In A Healthy Way
Every couple is going to have arguments from time to time — that’s inevitable. What really matters is how you argue, and whether it’s healthy or hurtful.
Arguments happen. Sometimes they become heated and emotions may override common sense and logic. When you have an argument with your partner, and you will have them, try to keep them healthy and respectful. If you cannot resolve your argument right away, learn to agree to disagree and drop the subject.
10. Discuss Your Sexual Fantasies
Being able to talk about sex openly doesn’t just mean you’ll both be more satisfied. It shows a real connection. In my experience, partners who talk openly about their fantasies tend to have good communication, solid trust, and more excitement, which leads to great sex and nourishing relationships.
11. Make Physical Contact
No matter what tone your conversation is taking, physical contact is important. Low-intensity stimulation of the skin, such as touching a partner or stroking their arm, promotes the release of oxytocin. Not only does this love hormone promote bonding and empathy in romantic partners, it can also act as an anti-stress agent and promotes cooperative behavior.
12. Say “Thank You”
A great way to build intimacy is expressing gratitude for something thoughtful your partner did that day. So simple.
Ultimately, communication is a skill, which means there’s always room for improvement. Work together with your partner to figure out how you can maintain healthy communication and stay on the same page. Be as honest, direct, kind, and thoughtful as you can.
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