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Relationships can be extremely rewarding. But what do you do when you don’t feel heard? Or when you and your partner feel a disconnect between each other? When problems arise, you must prioritize healthy communication in relationships.
More often than not, many difficulties in relationships stem from not practicing healthy communication patterns. Poor communication is the leading factor for divorce and breakups.
Maybe you have trouble expressing when your partner does something that bothers you. Or, maybe your partner often interrupts you and you feel rushed to get your point across.
Whether the poor communication is one-sided or both-sided is irrelevant. Both you and your partner must equally prioritize healthy communication in your relationship if you want to see a positive, mutually rewarding relationship.
These 9 rules for healthy communication in relationships will help you improve your interactions with your partner, develop healthy habits to ensure both partners feel heard, and, overall, strengthen the quality of your relationship!
This post is all about healthy communication in relationships.
1. Openly discuss your relationship and assure commitment
Check in with your partner often. Especially if you are in the first year of your relationship when there is greater opportunity to learn something you dislike about your partner.
For example, dealbreakers you’ve not yet touched upon can arise in the first year of the relationship.
Or, if things are going smoothly, offering your partner reassurance that you feel committed to the relationship and genuinely like the person they are provides (very necessary) clarity.
One of the most uncomfortable feelings is being unsure if your partner is as into the relationship as you are. Giving frequent reminders of where you’re at in your feelings of the relationship is a must.
And if you are experiencing concerns that make you question your commitment to the relationship, ALWAYS express these to your partner! They might be able to clear up your concerns and allow you both to settle your differences.
2. Give your partner your full attention
If your partner comes to you with a concern or wants to talk to you about their day, please give them the attention they deserve.
This also contributes to feeling heard in a relationship. Both parties MUST feel heard. I cannot express the importance of this enough!
Put down your phone. Maintain eye contact. Use your body language (i.e: nodding along) to show them that you’re giving them your undivided attention.
3. Discuss observations instead of interpreting them yourself
Oh, that pesky temptation to jump to conclusions! Am I right?
We’ve all heard time and time again that jumping to conclusions never turns out well. It can even contribute to self-sabotage as we expect the worst.
In turn, we act in ways that are counterproductive.
So instead of biting your tongue while you let your thoughts run rampant about the worst case scenario, express your observations to your partner.
Don’t do so in an accusatory way or make any assumptions. Simply inform your partner of the observation in question and gently express your concerns about the observation.
You might even learn that you thought wrong about the observation and that it was nothing to worry about after all.
4. Understand and discuss your needs
If you’ve gotten into the habit of keeping your needs to yourself in an effort to avoid conflict, stop!
This pattern of behavior only results in dissatisfaction, unclear communication, and can even snowball into resentment toward your partner for leaving your needs unmet.
Never let feelings like this bottle up. Instead, practice discussing any dissatisfaction with your partner or the relationship as soon as it occurs.
Be sure to fully understand your needs yourself before discussing them with your partner, too. This will make for more effective communication.
The sooner you make it a habit to discuss problems early on, the quicker you and your partner can begin working toward a solution.
Understanding your love language (and your partner’s) will also give you insight to your needs and theirs. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman covers what each of the love languages mean and helps you recognize which ones you identify with.
I don’t agree with some of Gary Chapman’s opinions, but the information on each love language is solid and informative. It’s worth checking out!
5. Request, but never demand
Something I want you to keep in mind throughout this article is the importance of being gentle with your partner.
If you start coming at your partner with demands or aggression, this doesn’t set a healthy example for the climate of your relationship.
Be mindful of your tone and word choice. You can be firm in letting your partner know what you’d like out of the relationship without the need to escalate into rage.
6. Passive aggression has no place
Another major contributor to unclear communication is when you speak to each other passive aggressively.
If “I’m fine” isn’t really how you feel, then don’t say it! Be honest, open, and clear with your partner. If your partner did something to upset you, don’t hide it! Let them know.
The goal is to resolve the conflict and bring awareness to it, not to brush it off and leave it to your partner to “figure out” what they did to upset you.
7. Don’t try to read your partner’s mind
If you’re on the receiving end of a partner with unclear communication, don’t try to read their mind and determine for yourself what they “really” mean.
If anything is unclear (say, for example, your partner is giving you mixed signals about their feelings for you), you’ve got to make it a habit to come right out and ask them what’s up.
And I know, it’s never easy. Nor is it pleasant. You may fear hearing news you don’t want to hear. But it’s also not very pleasant to let those fears ruminate and leave conflict unresolved.
Save yourself this trouble and be upfront with your partner, instead of trying to decipher their true thoughts and intentions.
8. Both you and your partner need to feel heard
Remember to value your partner’s thoughts and feelings as much as your own. Be mindful of how often you speak in “I,” “you,” or “we” language to your partner.
Excessive use of “I” language can indicate that you aren’t considering your partner as much as you’re considering yourself.
Conversely, excessive use of “you” language can make your partner feel like you’re scrutinizing them.
Aim to hear your partner out and be patient if you feel the urge to interrupt.
If you struggle with making time for your relationship amidst life’s day-to-day obligations, I highly recommend Mindful Relationship Habits by Barrie Davenport. This book will teach you how to be intentional about your choices and interactions with your partner.
9. Never think in terms of “me vs. my partner”
Remember, in a relationship, you are a team.
Avoid approaching problems as if it’s you against your partner. Instead, approach problems in terms of you and your partner vs. the problem itself.
You’ll have a much better chance at working through your problems in a healthy way when you feel like your partner is by your side every step of the way.
Support each other through every problem you have and work as a team to arrive at a solution that has you AND your partner’s best interest in mind.
Hey, are you or your partner struggling with mental health? Or just want to get better at tackling life’s daily stressors? Talking to an online therapist can really help you out. I always recommend Online Therapy because it’s a comprehensive, effective online therapy toolkit based on CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy–the leading standard in psychotherapy) at an affordable monthly cost.
Due to the close nature of romantic relationships, keeping a habit of healthy communication in relationships is extremely important for couples to thrive.
You need to be able to consistently communicate effectively and respectfully to maintain a healthy and successful relationship.
These 9 rules for healthy communication in relationships will help you get on the right track!
Best of luck.
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