Healthy Partner Communication
Whether you have just gotten into a romantic relationship or have been with your partner for years, communication can still be a challenge at times. Though conflict is expected in interpersonal relationships, one of the best ways to approach the situation is usually through clear communication. As expected, communicating with someone you are in a romantic relationship with will look vastly different than communicating with family, friends, and acquaintances. A good practice to remember while communicating with your partner is that they are experiencing the world very differently than you, and they cannot read your mind. It is certainly up to your discretion concerning what is worth addressing, and it is very useful to identify areas that may lead to communication conflicts. If you find yourself running into the same frustration or are thinking about it consistently, it may be very worth the effort and time.
Recognizing Negative Behavior
Avoid passive-aggressive tones
Do not belittle any serious situations
Criticism only worsens a tense conversation
Do not deflect from a situation-if your partner asks if there is something wrong, do not deny it
Raising your voice/yelling only escalates the situation
Interrupting your partner or running them over shows disrespect
Avoid stonewalling or the silent treatment
Take a Step Back
Take time for yourself to access the situation and sort out your feelings from your intentions. Going into a conversation with strong emotions may end up driving the conversation in the wrong direction. Set a time to talk with your partner and wait until both parties are in a mind space to discuss a serious issue–the first opportunity may not be the best opportunity.
Incorporate “I” language
Using “I” language involves starting statements with “I” instead of “you.” This takes a more perceptive tone and doesn’t put the other person on the defensive with a blaming tone. For example, saying “I feel sad when we can’t spend time together after work” is better than “you never spend any time with me after work.”
To optimize productive conversations, practicing active listening is essential. So many times we unconsciously tune the other person out while they are talking while we think of something to say in return. Instead, clear your mind and truly focus on what the other person is saying and after they are done find the right response.
Communication is a skill that can always be improved and worked on together as a couple. Clearly communicating needs is the first step to a more trusting and healthy relationship. These practices are most useful when thoughtfully applied, and even small changes can result in positive outcomes.