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3 Ways to Improve Communication in Your Relationship

Flashback to 2012. My (then) boyfriend (now husband) and I had been together for 4 years and graduated college. We had weathered the storms that most college relationships weather. Although we were still together and knew at that point that we wanted to be together forever, we bickered almost daily. What made the petty arguments worst is that, at their core, they were all the same. They all boiled down to the fact that even after years, we still didn’t know how to communicate with one another effectively. The fact of the matter is that men and women are different and one of the main differences is how we express ourselves. That difference makes itself extremely clear when it’s time for us to talk, especially about things that one or both of us is passionate about. With every single couple that comes to see me for counseling, I discuss communication skills because, in almost every relationship, issues related to how we communicate (or don’t) show up. Through trial and error over the course of the last 9 years, my husband and I have been able to learn how to express ourselves effectively and productively. Many of the lessons that we taught ourselves have shown up in my counseling books (albeit under different and usually more complicated names) and, if you ask me, it all boils down to 3 simple tips that I’m sharing with you to help you improve communication in your relationship.

With every single couple that comes to see me for counseling, I discuss communication skills because, in almost every relationship, issues related to how we communicate (or don't) show up. If you ask me, it all boils down to 3 simple tips that I'm sharing with you to help you improve communication in your relationship.

Eliminate blaming statements

In relationships, we love to play the blame game. If you want to improve communication in your relationship, it’s imperative that you stop constantly trying to point the finger at your partner. Remove phrases like “you never XYZ” and “you always XYZ” (which are irrational anyway) and replace them with more vulnerable statements that express your feelings. When you talk vulnerably about your experience, your partner is much more likely to respond with love and concern than with defensiveness and anger. (More on exactly how to do this to come in an upcoming post!)

Listen to understand 

If you want to improve communication in your relationship, you can’t just focus on being a better talker. You have to be a better listener as well. We’re often so busy trying to think of a rebuttal to whatever our partner is saying during an argument that we don’t even actually pay attention to the content. In relationships, it’s important that we listen to understand instead of always listening to respond.

Give your undivided attention

My husband knows that the easiest way to make me upset is to pick up his phone during the middle of one of our serious conversations. To improve communication in your relationship, it’s imperative that you eliminate distractions and give your undivided attention when your spouse requests it. Turn off your video game, close your laptop, turn down your favorite show, and put down your phone. Failing to give you partner your attention when he or she is trying to communicate with you about something serous will likely give them the impression that you don’t care about what they’re saying.

Which of these tips are you going to use to improve communication in your relationship?

 

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