Being in a relationship is absolutely wonderful. There’s nothing better in this world (at least for us) than finding the right someone to live, play, love and explore with. In many relationships, both people often share similar beliefs and connect in a way that cannot easily be described nor understood by others. Even though each relationship may have a unique connection, sometimes there may be a difference of opinion, a different process for doing things, or some wrong-doing that creates an obstacle. Effectively communicating with your partner helps to navigate through such obstacles and rough times.
Has there been a time when your partner said something that is extremely irritating? Do you have a habit that drives your partner crazy? We’re going to provide you with some communication tips to help guide you through troubling times so your relationship remains strong and positive.
#1. Choose the right time to talk with your partner. It’s probably not best to strike up a conversation with your partner when you’re extremely pissed off or stressed out. Especially if your partner is the one causing you frustration and anxiety. First, try to calm yourself before initiating a conversation with them. Entering into a conversation while angry or upset can often lead to a battling argument rather than a simple conversation. However, if you need to get things off your chest while still in an emotional state, try doing so without be verbally or emotionally hurtful. Also, choose a time to talk when both of you are free from distractions. If your partner is watching a popular television show and really into it, do you think they’re really going to give you their undivided attention? It might be better to let them finish the show and then invite them into a conversation afterwards.
#2. Speak with your partner, not at them. A conversation is an exchange of ideas spoken through words between two or more people. If one person is doing all the talking, then it’s not really a conversation. It can be very frustrating for the recipient if they aren’t able to communicate back. Most people don’t want to feel like they’re being lectured…especially when an underlying problem or issue is trying to be resolved.
#3. Use “I” statements. Tell us which statement sounds better: “You don’t make time for me anymore.” Or, “I really wish we could spend some quality time together.” We hope your choice is the second statement. With the example above, would you rather be accused of something, or, would you rather know how your partner feels? Using “I” statements allows you to share your thoughts and feelings openly and honestly. Using proper “I” statements allows for positive expression without assigning blame to your partner. However, there are times when an “I” statements can be used inappropriately. Here’s an example: “I hate when you ignore me.” Although this statement conveys a feeling, using the word “hate” is not the best choice. Instead, say something like: “I feel like you don’t listen to me.” Again, always try your best at expressing feelings and opinions rather than being accusatory and assigning blame.
#4. Use proper tone. When communicating with each other, avoid speaking loudly and aggressively. An escalating loud tone often indicates that the speaker is getting too emotionally involved. Yes, we’re human beings and we all have emotions. However, sometimes our emotions can control our tone. Instead, practice speaking softly. Use a soft tone when conveying an opinion or emotion with your partner. Doing so may prevent you and your partner from a heated argument filled with shouting.
#5. Avoid criticism & contempt. Most people don’t like to be criticized nor do they want to feel like they’re be held in contempt for something. Have you ever gone out with your friends and stayed out too late? Did you forget to call your partner to let them know that you’d be late? Maybe you were having great fun and lost track of time. A situation like this is, most-likely, going to become a topic of conversation upon arriving home. Upon walking in the front door, you may find your partner waiting for you. They might sarcastically say: “Thanks a lot for calling me.” This statement may not be the best approach for this situation. Instead, using an “I” statement, you partner could’ve said: “I wish you would’ve called me. I was really worried about you.” This statement allows the other person to reply without becoming defensive and could prevent a shouting match from happening. Contempt often implies that another person is undeserving of respect or considered worthless. On one occasion, we heard a man say this about his wife: “She has no idea what she’s doing in the kitchen, she can’t even make a piece of toast.” Although he may have meant this as a joke, we found it very insulting. The expression on his wife’s face after saying this showed that she felt sad and discouraged. Never, absolutely never, put your partner down. Instead, give praise to your partner and express how wonderful they are.
#6. Don’t use harmful language. We’ve had a few bitter moments in our relationship. One rule we live by each day is: “Never say something harmful or hurtful. Once it’s said, you can never take it back.” Saying harmful and hurtful things can be forgiven, but they are never forgotten. Always treat each other with respect when in a heated discussion.
#7. Give your partner equal opportunity to speak. A healthy conversation should never be one-sided. Remember, a romantic relationship involves two people (maybe more if you’re kinky, ha ha). Give each other an opportunity at the podium. Resolving a particular issue is extremely difficult if the other person is not given an opportunity to present their feelings and opinions. If you’re first at the podium, give your side of the conversation, step down, and then let your partner have a chance to present their side. Yeah, it sounds a lot like a court proceeding, but it serves a purpose. The main purpose is to seek compromise and understanding which will result in a more meaningful and healthy relationship.
#8. Engage in active listening. As your partner is speaking, always be sure to listen to what they are saying. Not only listen, show your partner that you hear what’s being said. Engage with your partner by turning towards them and make eye contact with them as they’re talking. Maintain a positive facial expression and nod your head to show that you understand what they are saying. Once your partner is finished speaking, ask clarifying questions for things you didn’t understand. If you engage in active listening, there’s a better chance that your partner will reciprocate during your time speaking.
#9. Avoid mind-reading and making assumptions. Over time, many deep connections are made within a relationship. You know each other better than anyone else does. For us, we have gotten to the point where we can finish each other’s sentences. But, there are times when one of us “assumes” what’s going to be said when it’s really not. It can be very frustrating. Although a relationship is made by having both of you in it, each of you is still their own person. Both you, and your partner, are entitled to your own thoughts, feelings, opinions and habits. Be respectful of these things and don’t try to read their mind nor make assumptions…especially during bitter conversations. Let your partner convey their message without interjection. For example, if your partner has been too tired for sex, avoid saying: “You don’t think I’m attractive.” That’s probably not the case at all. Maybe your partner has had a tough day at the office. Or, maybe they had an intense arm day at the gym and are completely exhausted. Trying to read your partner’s mind is impossible as the human race is not gifted with ESP and telepathy.
#10. Avoid using negative non-verbal gestures. Although oxygen is plentiful here on Earth, most people don’t like wasting precious air on an unproductive conversation. As aforementioned, engaging in active listening is crucial to a successful conversation. Whether you agree or disagree with what your partner is saying, always avoid negative non-verbal gestures. While listening, do not roll your eyes at them or avoid making eye contact. If there are objects laying nearby, do not pick them up and start playing with them. Maintain a positive facial expression and don’t make negative facial expressions such as frowning or showing them your ‘angry’ face. From a speaking standpoint, avoid flailing your arms when emotional. Not only do you look like an octopus out of water, your partner might think that you’re going crazy. Finger pointing is also a gesture that should be avoided. Pointing a finger at your partner, especially when upset, correlates directly with being accusatory and contempt. Maintain a positive and relaxed posture when speaking.
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