Would you say that you and your partner have a healthy relationship? Do the two of you communicate effectively? Are you two able to talk about difficult topics well? When conflict arises do you have the skills to help you manage tensions felt? If not, don’t fear we share strategies for healthy communication below.
Impact of Communication on Relationships
Healthy communication is essential for healthy relationships. Healthy communication can foster feelings of intimacy and greater experiences of partnership in relationships. When communication is great in relationships, it leads to positive feelings, which can ultimately spill over into our individual mental health, our physical health, our work performance, and relationships with others to name a few. However, when communication is poor, it can negatively impact our health. We can experience poor health, experience greater mental health problems and create feelings of low self-esteem, which can impact on relationships with others we are closest to as well. We can project feelings of anger and frustration onto others that are not directly related to the relationship and create tension and hostility in other relationships.
To prevent this, we must decide to do our part to be mentally well and evaluate what we might need to do differently to improve our relationships. That may mean utilizing calming strategies to avoid reacting in anger, being humble to hear our partner’s needs, apologizing for wrongs done, and considering how we can compromise to better meet our partner’s needs. That way, we can actually experience healthy relationships.
All relationships will at some point experience tension and conflict. What’s important is not that we have ‘no’ conflict in relationships, but rather that we learn from conflict experienced, so we better manage future conflict that arises. Remember no relationship is perfect, and as humans neither are we. Our partners have flaws- as do we. We must be mindful of expectations we place our partners so that we adjust unfair expectations placed on them. Working on our mindset is key as well as making decisions to commit to changing areas needed to improve our relationships. As the saying goes “its not how you start, but how well you finish!” (Jim Jordan).
Suggestions to improve Communication
Below are suggestions to improve communication and feelings of closeness in relationships:
Set aside time to spend together. Aim to consistently spend time with your partner to catch up and know how each other is doing. Doing so will reduce feelings of tension and build feelings of closeness.
Consider the right time to talk. Timing is very important. Think of a time that is best to communicate with your partner. Ask to talk about things during that time versus a time when you or your partner are tired or not in a good mood to talk.
Use “I” statements instead of “You” statements. This will convey what you feel, and minimize feelings of blame towards your partner and their need to defend themselves.
Be specific rather than general. When something occurs that you don’t like, be specific about what happened and what upset you. Being specific helps to focus on situation rather than generalizing. Using broad statements often deflects the focus of the situation. I.e. this always happens.
Actively listen; Leave out the defense. Think of how you feel when you are heard and understood. Aim to understand to your partner’s needs without interrupting what they say to you.
Express positive feelings. Reflect on what you appreciate about your partner and express affection, respect, and approval. Your partner will appreciate compliments you share and be more likely to receive the difficult things you may need to say.
More Communication Help
Remember despite the challenges you and your partner may feel in the relationship, there are good things about the relationship. Aim to reflect on the things that do work in the relationship and traits about your partner you like and enjoy. For a great read check out John Gottman’s book: The seven principles for making marriage work. https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Principles-Making-Marriage-Work/dp/0609805797
If you and your partner would like to learn more about communicating effectively, contact us to register for our upcoming 3 part workshop series: Communication 101. Click this link for more information. https://www.vibrantwoman.me/upcoming-events/
Until then, please share your thoughts on communication challenges you experience in your relationship and how you think the strategies listed above could potentially improve your relationship.