More often than not, the couples that I meet with tell me that their number one challenge is communication.
What’s so hard about saying what’s on your mind and having your partner listen and understand? Apparently a lot!
Miscommunications and misunderstandings are bound to happen, and don’t have to be a big deal when quickly resolved. But when being on separate pages the majority of the time is the norm, it’s time to make some changes.
Below are several strategies for helping to improve your communication with your partner.
You chose your partner, so try to remember that when speaking with him or her. Be respectful. Don’t lash out. Refrain from sarcasm. Remind yourself, if you need to, that nothing will get resolved while angry. If you and your partner can’t calm down enough to talk rationally, then set a time at a later point to discuss the matter.
Listen and reflect
Listening is just one part of the communications puzzle. The reason that listening without reflecting isn’t sufficient is because we are all guilty of hearing things different than what was intended. To help ensure that you heard what you were meant to hear, and that your partner knows that you listened, try reflecting back in your own words. You don’t need to repeat every word that you heard. Simply share the gist of what your partner said so that he or she really feels that you get it.
Once you’ve gotten to the point where each of you feels heard and understood, it is then critical to put yourself into your partner’s shoes. Do you now understand why this issue is so important to him or her? If you don’t feel like you can empathize, ask more questions until you reach a point when you can. To truly connect with your partner, you need to understand their feelings and why they feel that way. By talking openly with one another and allowing your vulnerability to show through, you not only will better understand where each other is coming from, but you may feel closer in the process.
We can’t always have things our way. That’s just not how life works. So when it comes to a topic that you and your partner disagree on, understanding why the issue matters to both of you is critical for resolution. Give and take is required in healthy relationships, so you’ll learn when to pick your battles when you truly listen to and empathize with your partner.
Put the phone down
Smartphones are great, but they can create significant barriers in relationships. So often, couples say that they don’t have eye contact with speaking with one another as they continue to play on their phone. Put the phone down. Look at your partner. Give them the attention they deserve, and they will do the same. Allot certain times of the day for phone time, but be even more certain to schedule in your quality time together.
Keep these strategies in mind when you talk with your partner. You might be surprised at how quickly your communication will improve.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
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More by Shannon Stonebrook