The saying “communication is the key” to any relationship is not new. Personally I think it’s really easy to tell people that communication is important in a healthy relationship, but it’s not as easy to explain how to communicate, when to communicate, because it involves both verbal and body language. And if we’re never taught how to use this key, then we’ll never be able to open the door to healthy communication and keep experiencing challenges.
Communication is said to be successful when you can convey or share ideas and feelings. You cannot be a great talker, and not be an equally great listener in order to be a great communicator. Communication is about expressing yourself in a healthy way, listening to your partner when they are doing the same, and really hearing and absorbing what the other person has to say, not just talking aimlessly.
Try these tips for communicating better in your relationship
- Try asking open-ended questions as regularly as possible.
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.
The more you get to know your partner. On a deeper level, the more open and honest you may be with each other. And honesty breeds trust, which are two very important pillars of a healthy relationship. Basically trust helps build good relationship.
- Try to be sensitive to nonverbal cues
If your partner says “my day was fine” but their tone sounds irritated, upset, or angry, then there may be something else that they’re feeling but not yet ready to communicate. Communication is not just about the words we say but also how we say them. Our tone and our attitude give away a lot more than just the words coming out of our mouths. And it’s honestly a skill to be able to pick up on those nonverbal cues. Look at your partner’s facial expressions, their hands (are they trembling/fidgety?), their body language (Are they making eye contact? Are they crossing their arms?) and listen to their tone of voice. It may not be easy at first but with time you will understand them better and see obvious signs.
- Resist trying to assume what they are thinking
Sometimes you can tell just by looking at someone what they may be feeling. It’s not always easy to do this and let’s face it: as much as we want to be mind readers, we aren’t and shouldn’t have to be. So, if you’re not sure what your partner is feeling, ask them.
If you’re the one holding things in and expecting your partner to read your mind, take a moment to appreciate the fact that your partner is making an effort by asking you what’s going on rather than ignoring the problem. Do your best to let them know how you’re feeling when you’re ready to open up about it. It’s not healthy to say you’re okay when you’re not and then get mad at your partner for not figuring it out. Be honest about how you feel to the best of your ability, and try to express it in a healthy way before it gets to the point where it blows up and someone says something they regret. Being direct is always better than being silent.
If your partner is the one who is guilty of being silent, try letting them know that it’s not really helpful for either of you when they’re not honest about how they feel. Of course, it’s awesome when we know each other so well that we can practically read each other’s’ thoughts and know exactly what to say in the right moments, but we’re human and we may make mistakes sometimes or miss signs that seem obvious to our partner or vice versa. It’s important that you both make an effort to better understand each other and be patient with each other, too.
- Tell your partner what you need from them
Sometimes we may just want to vent and feel validated by having our partner support us. Other times, all we may require is advice. Like I said before, none of us are mind readers, so it’s important to try to keep your partner informed so that you’re on the same page. Saying something beforehand like, “I need to vent right now and I’m not looking for any advice, just your support,” or, “I really need your advice on this situation,” will let them know exactly what you need in that moment.
Being direct about what you need can alleviate some of the miscommunication or stress in a given situation, too. By letting them know ahead of time, we can maybe prevent those unnecessary disagreements brought on by a miscommunication.
Communication is a skill
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. Whether it’s with a Bae Sesh, or simply making a bigger effort to open up to each other.
Ways to improve communication in your relationship
- 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.
- Never assume
It’s easy to get worked up in your own head about something, but never actually reach out to the other person. Assumptions and mind reading usually lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
Communication isn’t just about talking; it’s about being an active listener. Who is an active listener? “[They] listen to what their partner says, rather than get defensive without understanding the partner’s point of view or where they’re coming from, so be patient and actually listen.
- Have regular relationship check-ins
Just like you should ask how they are every day, you need to check in about the big stuff too. Make sure that you ask, “How do you feel about us?” and if there are any big changes — moving in, getting engaged, going on holiday— make sure you talk about them regularly. It gives you both an important platform to air concerns.
- Believe things can exchange
Part of having positive conversation and communication is having a positive attitude. Don’t approach problems as though they’re impossible to solve.
If your partner is reaching out to you, be there to meet them. Couples try to ‘ get each others 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.
- Talk things through before they happen
If you know you have a stressful time coming up, touch base beforehand.
- Say “thank you” and always be grateful even for the little things
“A great way to build intimacy is expressing gratitude for something thoughtful your partner did that day,” it really is very simple. The words thank you and well done go a long way.
- 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.
- Communicate during sex
You don’t need to be into dirty talk to communicate during sex. Giving verbal cues is great, but moaning, leading their hands, even just saying what feels good are all great ways to make sure that the communication is happening in all areas of your relationship — bedroom included.
- Pick your timing
So often we bring something up when we’re feeling frustrated or annoyed. But pick your timing. Don’t bring up a big problem if there’s no time to discuss it properly. Don’t approach your partner with a bunch of small problems while the stressing about something big. You’ll know when it’s a good time.
- Take the time to compliment and praise each other
If you get too comfortable with each other, it’s easy to only bring things up if they’re bothering you. You start to get complacent about the good things and take them for granted, which can breed resentment. Keep pointing out what you appreciate and love about each other.
It might feel as though communication is all about those big, deep conversations. In reality, it’s all about maintaining the little things. You may not get it all at once but keep trying. I wish you all the best.