Even in the happiest and healthiest of relationships, all relationships are tough. They’re fun, exhilarating, and comforting, but man, they’re not always easy. And if I were to claim to be a relationship “expert”, I’d totally be lying. I’ve only been in one real and long-lasting relationship, however, I’ve been involved in enough of my friend’s relationships to be able to give some sound advice. And I can take what I have learned from dating my boyfriend, Marlin, after all this time.
The biggest thing I realized, both in my relationships and in my close friends’ relationships, is that communication is key! Although Marlin and I’s relationship is great, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows 24/7. And in the beginning, communication was the biggest issue for that. Luckily, however, communication is something you can practice and eventually excel in! Therefore, in today’s post, I have a few tips on how to communicate better with your partner to ensure a healthier and stronger relationship!
1. Speak their love language
We don’t all show affection and love the same exact way. In The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, he outlines the five major love languages as quality time, gift-giving, words of affirmation, physical touch, and acts of service. The idea is that you cannot expect someone to feel your love if you don’t speak it in their “language.” For example, perhaps you always hold your partner’s hand when you’re in public together…but what they really want is for you to spend some more quality time with them in a more private setting.
Or maybe you love to write long Facebook or Instagram captions about your partner…but what he really wants is for you to tell him in person – in more of an intimate way. So think about what makes your lover feel the most loved. If you don’t know, then ask! And if they say that they don’t know – which many men might – then observe the way they react when you express for your love for them. In any way(s) that you typically do. It took me months to figure out what Marlin’s love languages were – even when I would bluntly ask. Therefore, through practice, you will become fluent in theirs to best communicate your love.
2. Use “I” more often
In order to express yourself clearly so your partner doesn’t get defensive, begin your statements with “I.” For example, instead of saying, “You never listen to me,” say, “I feel disrespected when I have to repeat myself.” Or instead of saying, “You constantly neglect me when you work so much,” try saying, “I’m so proud of all the things you’re accomplishing with your work! But I do wish we could spend more time together. How about we plan for something next weekend?”
Trust me, it’s all about the wording and NOT deliberately putting the blame on them – because then they simply feel attacked and defensive. When you intentionally handle the situation in a more mature and calm way, your partner will likely be more receptive because you’re not attacking them, and rather explaining how you’re feeling and offering a realistic solution.
3. Know when to pause and take a step back
When things get heated, emotions feel overwhelming, and tensions get high, it can be difficult to communicate calmly, respectfully, and maturely – let alone find a resolution. In these cases, many of us tend to overreact and get defensive. However, for healthy and effective communication, you want your goal to be responsive, not reactive. Therefore, in these heated situations, the best thing to do is pause for a moment and take a step back from the confrontation. Allow yourself to simmer down enough to where your logic takes reign, and then you can have a productive conversation.
Though it may feel difficult to drop the argument, remind yourself that this is ultimately the more efficient route to improving your relationship. In moments like these, I would much rather take a moment to think clearly, concisely, and look at both sides of the situation rather than try to immediately prove that I’m right or jump to any conclusions in any type of argument.
4. Set boundaries
Boundaries simply come down to what is okay and what isn’t okay within your relationship. However, there may be times – let’s be honest, there will be times – where you might let your partner/loved one cross the line of what makes you comfortable or happy over and over again. With that, however, resentment builds up and takes a form it never had to capitulate to – a fight or even a breakup – which is why it’s so vital for both people in the relationship to assert what they truly need from other. Meaning, have a conversation about the things that you’re willing to accept and not accept in a relationship. Of course, it’s better to establish your boundaries early in the relationship, but that doesn’t mean you can’t repeat them or decide on new ones later as your relationship goes on.
5. Reassure them
Reassurance is definitely important throughout a relationship – in the good and the bad moments. Even in conversations that may feel difficult, reassure your partner that being open about these tough topics is best for the relationship. After all, you wouldn’t address it if you didn’t care about it! When two people feel safe talking about anything, and opening up to each other, that’s when you can really let yourselves love freely and have a healthier, stronger relationship.
What communication tips can you share?
What have you learned from it?
Let me know in the comments!