Do you want to know the #1 reason people seek couples therapy?
Of course, it’s to find a way to fix or improve their relationship but the most common core issue is communication.
The quality of communication in your relationship will directly impact the quality of your relationship. If you can’t talk, you can’t resolve – it’s that simple.
But a relationship lacking in communication is not doomed! Here are some common couples communication tips you can use to improve your relationship:
1. Active Listening
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “In one ear and out the other.” While you could be hearing your partner, sometimes you may not be actually listening.
To actively listen to your partner, you need to take it all in first. Let your partner know you are listening by turning your body toward them, nodding your head, and paraphrasing what they have said when they are finished.
Not only does this help improve your communication but it allows you an opportunity to clarify what they are saying so there are no misunderstandings.
2. Ask Open-Ended Questions
This communication tip is great for everyday life. If you want to engage in a meaningful conversation with your partner, ask them open-ended questions.
These are questions that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. Your partner will have to give you a more in-depth response to answer the question.
This is useful as well when it comes to raising concerns in your relationship. Instead of asking something like, “Are you happy with me?” you could ask, “What can I do to make you happy?”
3. Show Appreciation
Healthy communication is not all about dealing with arguments and conflict. In fact, the more you practice healthy communication with your partner, the less these will happen!
It’s important to make your partner feel valued and respected in the relationship. Make a habit of pointing out what you appreciate about them.
Incorporating more positive statements into your communication, especially during moments of conflict or when you are discussing issues, is far more impactful than making negative ones.
4. Understand > Being Understood
When you are in a relationship, it is important that you are understood by your partner. But when it comes to conflict and important discussions, it’s important to take the time to understand your partner before trying to explain yourself.
Focus your attention on clarifying what your partner is saying and seeing the situation from their perspective.
It could be that you misunderstood where they were coming from and no longer have to explain yourself. Otherwise, it allows you to explain your side of things from a place of empathy.
5. Acknowledge Common Ground
A relationship is a partnership and when you focus solely on your point of view, discussions can escalate into arguments and conflict.
Along with trying to understand your partner before explaining yourself, it helps to bring up any common ground you share.
For instance, if you are arguing with your partner about money, you can emphasize how you share their frustrations. This changes the discussion from a “you versus me” standpoint to an “us versus them” one.
6. Use “I” Statements
When it comes to communicating with your partner, it’s not all about what they have to say. Your thoughts and feelings are equally important.
You can shift the focus to your concerns by using “I” statements. This can help you communicate your concerns without blaming your partner.
It also prevents your partner from becoming defensive. When you use “you” statements, your partner may feel attacked.
7. Leave Out Blame
Speaking of blame, try to leave it out of arguments and conflicts. If something is bothering you, take a more gentle approach and be aware of your tone.
When you use a respectful tone and keep blame out of the equation, you can focus on having a more productive conversation instead of an argument.
8. Take a Break
Not all couples’ communication is productive and there may be times when arguments get heated and you have a hard time controlling your temper.
There is nothing wrong with taking a break to calm down and gather your thoughts. You can take this opportunity to figure out what you are feeling and why you are feeling that way before continuing the conversation.
Use this time to calm down instead of going over the argument in your head or thinking about what you want to say. You can try some deep breathing or go for a walk.
9. Avoid Communication Busters
There are 4 faux-pas you can make while talking with your partner that will break down communication right away:
- Criticism: pointing out flaws in your partner’s personality
- Defensiveness: making statements to protect yourself when you feel attacked
- Stonewalling: giving your partner the silent treatment
- Contempt: saying things to make yourself feel superior
If you notice yourself doing any of these things, it’s time to take that break I mentioned above. Be sure to take responsibility for your actions and approach the topic again with gentleness and understanding.
10. Look for Unhealthy Patterns
There are some unhealthy communication patterns you may find yourself and your partner stuck in, including the need to find a “bad guy” in the situation, withdrawing when you don’t like where the conversation is going, or walking away from the conversation with no explanation.
When dealing with situations in your relationship, it’s important to stay present and open with your partner. Allowing these patterns to continue will cause distance and detachment in your relationship.
Seeking Therapy for Couples Communication
Sometimes a list of valuable tips isn’t enough to overhaul communication issues in a relationship.
Again, all hope is not lost!
If you find that you are arguing more frequently with your partner and these strategies do not help, it may be time to speak to a professional.
My approach to couples therapy is innovative and effective – and I am dedicated to helping you achieve your relationship goals.