“The key to any relationship is good communication.” You’ve probably heard this before, and for good reason. No matter how strong your relationship is, issues will surface and the way to get through them will be to communicate with one another. This can be challenging when we all communicate differently based on our own upbringings and past experiences. The good news is, it’s never too late to improve your communication. Here are 6 practical ways to communicate more effectively and strengthen your relationship in the process.
1. If you want something, ask.
Don’t expect your partner to be a mind reader. That dish he left in the sink may be driving you crazy, but he most likely forgot about it and doesn’t see it as a big deal. Whether it’s something small like a dish, or something much larger, you really can't assume that your partner knows how you feel or what you want. When there is uncertainty, make sure you clearly articulate how you are feeling. The next time you “wish” your spouse would do something, just ask him rather than expecting him to read your mind.
2. Don’t say “I’m Fine” unless you mean it.
When your spouse asks if everything’s ok and you say you’re fine even when you aren’t, it’s only more confusing and frustrating for him. You may say it to avoid conflict, or you tell yourself you’ll just forget about it, but this only keeps the peace for the short-term. Your spouse is showing that he cares enough to ask you what’s wrong, be honest and open and share your feelings so that it doesn’t continue to happen in the future.
3. Talk with them, not at them.
If your spouse hears “let’s talk” and wants to run away and hide, that’s probably a sign that these talks are often more accusing and less understanding. When you want to talk, be conscious not to point blame at your partner by starting with “You make me... “ or “You didn’t…” Your partner will be less likely to be defensive if you don’t sound as though you’re in attack mode.
4. Resolve the issue and then move on.
It doesn’t help either of you when you focus on the same point over and over: This could be a sign that you didn’t clearly communicate how you feel and what is important to you in the first place. Once you do that and come to an agreement, you have to let it go. Continuing to bring up the same point from the past over and over will only exhaust you both.
5. Listen to understand, not to reply.
We’re often so focused on our own thoughts in our head that we’re waiting for our turn to speak without even listening to what our spouse is saying and how they feel. Make the effort to understand things from your partner's perspective by simply listening to everything they have to say. They usually see a situation with a completely different perspective, and just by understanding it may resolve the issue much quicker. Empathy is one of the most important skills you can practice as a couple.
6. Express positive feelings, too.
Most people are quicker to express negative feelings than positive ones. It is vital to the health of your relationship that you affirm your spouse. Positive feelings such as appreciation, affection, respect, and admiration expressed to your spouse are like making deposits into your love account. Try to make a goal to have five positive deposits for every one negative. If your compliments exceed your complaints, your spouse will pay attention to your grievances.