Clear and healthy communication is a vital component in any healthy relationship. The inability to foster healthy communication will quickly lead to a negative, and possibly hostile, relationship. These tips are geared towards couples facing run of the mill communication issues. If your relationship is emotionally or physically abusive, please seek professional help.
Timing is everything
“If you need to have a serious conversation with your partner, it is important to choose the right time and place to do so.” Stated the manager of the local dental laboratory. Generally speaking, this would be during a time when the two of you are alone and unlikely to be interrupted. It is also best to strike up a conversation when neither of you is distracted with work stress, like a major project due the next day. If you have just had an argument, allow a cooling off period before your discussion so that it will be fueled by reason, not emotion.
Do it in Person
While electronic communications have their place, it is best to have all serious conversations in person. It is all too easy to misconstrue emails and text messages when the subject matter is heavy. Being able to hear tone of voice and see someone’s body language can completely change the dynamic. Many fights and hurt feelings due to misunderstandings can be avoided by sitting down with your partner and looking at each other while you talk.
Use “I” Statements
Using “I” statements is a mature way to take responsibility for your own feelings and actions. “You” statements are typically viewed as accusations, which will only make your partner feel defensive. Rather than saying, “You never help me around the house,” say something along the lines of, “I have been feeling overburdened with my household responsibilities. I would be very grateful for some additional help since I am so overwhelmed right now.”
Honesty is the Best Policy
It can feel awkward and painful to be truthful sometimes. However, being completely honest and up front in your communications is the only way to build a healthy relationship. Lies and deception will only lead to bigger problems in the long run; lying lays a foundation of distrust.
Avoid closed body language like crossing your arms. Make it a point to touch your partner’s arm or hand as you speak. This tells your partner that you are in a space of openness and still love them. Look them in the eyes. Avoiding eye contact is interpreted as hostility or hiding something.
Give it a Couple of Days
Allow the issue time to breathe. This will help you stay calm and collected while you talk. If you are still unable to communicate effectively with your partner, you may both benefit from the help of a relationship counselor.