Communication within Relationships
Communication is the cornerstone of every successful relationship.
Unfortunately it doesn’t always go as planned. So many people get stuck in a cycle of miscommunication or avoidable arguments and it invariably hurts their relationship.
That’s why today I thought we’d dive deeper into communication within relationships and cover some super practical communication tips for healthy relationships.
We'll explore powerful tips to enhance your communication skills and deepen your connection.
Incorporating techniques like active listening and expressing emotions effectively enables you to cultivate more open and honest communication.
These tips will help you fortify the foundation of your relationship for long lasting love and a relationship that brings out the best in you..
So, let's dive right in!
Tip #1 Active Listening: A Crucial Skill for Meaningful Conversations
If you haven’t practised actively listening to your partner yet, I urge you to do so today!
It’s such a seemingly simple skill and yet it genuinely boosts your ability to understand, connect and empathise with your partner.
In sustaining healthy relationships, communication skills really go a long way. Active listening is one such skill that I encourage everyone to develop - believe me, it will serve you in all areas of life.
"The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said." - Peter Drucker
I don’t want to give you vague advice so let’s break it down further. Here are some practical actions you can take to become a better active listener:
1. Give your partner your undivided attention by putting away distractions, maintaining eye contact, and displaying open body language.
2. Remember to nod and respond with verbal cues, like "mm-hmm" and "I see," to indicate that you're engaged in the conversation.
3. Resist the urge to interrupt or prepare a response while your partner is speaking!
- I know your brain is racing ahead and trying to be helpful but it’s not actually helping your partner feel heard.
- Instead, focus on their words and emotions.
4. See if you can take the conversation deeper by understanding where they're coming from and what’s going on for them at the moment.
Tip #2 Open and Honest Communication: The Heart of a Strong, Healthy Relationship
Open and honest communication within relationships helps couples thrive.
It may not be the easiest or most natural thing for you for a variety of reasons, and that’s ok. There’s no expectation for this to be easy.
You can show yourself compassion for any challenges you face as you practice opening up more to your partner.
I urge you to make it a priority to share your thoughts, feelings, and concerns openly, even if it's challenging.
You can start small and give yourself time to build the trust in yourself and your partner that you need in order to share anything more personal or emotionally challenging.
Encourage your partner to do the same by creating a safe and judgement-free space for discussions.
Being open and honest with your partner is honestly vital for a long-term healthy relationship.
It’s what helps you be transparent and build trust so you can smoothly navigate the ups and downs of life in general, and in particular your relationship dynamic.
It will require practising patience, compassion and vulnerability though. I’ll expand on this in a future blog post, so keep an eye out for that!
Tip #3 The Power of "I" Statements
I love this one! Using "I" statements helps you clearly express your emotions without coming across as accusatory or aggressive.
We all have different communication styles in relationships and that’s great. Some couples actually enjoy ‘fighting’ or more heated conversations for example.
Nonetheless, most people in my experience don’t like feeling accused or being given unsolicited advice.
You probably want to avoid communication related relationship issues, right?
That’s where “I” statements come in.
Sharing from your own perspective, using “I”, prevents your partner from feeling triggered and immediately going into defensive mode.
It immediately shifts from feeling like you’re telling them what to do or how to feel into you simply sharing your experience.
So instead of saying, "You never listen to me," try saying something more like, "I feel unheard when I talk about my day." It might feel weird at first but I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it quickly.
Rephrasing using “I” statements
To help you along, here are some more examples of rephrasing using “I” statements:
Partner A: "You never help with the chores around the house!"
Partner B: "I hear your frustration. Could you rephrase that using 'I' statements though and help me understand what you need?"
Partner A: "You're right, I'm sorry. What I meant was, 'I feel overwhelmed when I have to handle most of the chores on my own. I worry about being taken for granted and that you expect me to do all the household things. Can we discuss a more balanced division of responsibilities?'"
Partner A: "You're always on your phone when we're together, and it's annoying."
Partner B: "Oh. I hadn’t even realised I was doing that. I see that it’s bothering you, but do you think you could tell me what exactly you're feeling and what you need from me?
Partner A: "Sure. 'I feel ignored when you're on your phone during our time together. It makes it hard for me to feel respected by you, which is something I really need. Can we set aside some phone-free time for each other?'"
Partner A: "You never listen to my concerns about our finances."
Partner B: "Woh ehmm ok. I’d like to understand where this is coming from. Can you give me some more context from your point of view please?"
Partner A: "Ok sure.. 'I don’t feel heard when I try to discuss our financial situation with you. Can we set aside some time to talk about our budget and financial goals?'"
This approach emphasises your feelings and prevents your partner from becoming defensive, paving the way for a much more productive conversation.
Note the addition of clarifying for yourself and the other person what your underlying need or desire is.
This technique comes from the Nonviolent Communication framework developed by Marshall Rosenberg. I can highly recommend looking into it if you’re interested in further improving your communication skills!
Try out the 'I' statements with friends too. As a bonus, it's also great to tame your advice monster. So if you tend to jump in with advice, this technique is extra helpful for you!
Tip #4 Embrace Vulnerability: Let Your Guard Down
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable with your partner will drastically strengthen your emotional connection.
Sharing your fears, insecurities, and dreams shows that you trust your partner with your deepest feelings.
Not only should they feel honoured that you’re trusting them with this, but it also lets them get to know you on a far deeper level.
Having your guard up
You keep your guard up out of fear of being seen and getting hurt when they see your perceived “undesirable” qualities right?
In turn however, you’re feeding your fear monsters and blocking yourself from the deep connections part of you longs for.
Following the previous tips may allow you to feel safe enough with your partner to start letting your guard down little by little and get more comfortable with being vulnerable.
I’ve found the best approach to this is honestly to just start.
Share something slightly vulnerable that isn’t too scary and see how your partner reacts. If they’re totally cool with it, supportive and respectful, it’ll encourage you to keep going.
If they’re not quite as ‘cool’ as you’d hoped, it’s an opportunity for more communication practice. Come back to the tips I shared around active listening and using “I” statements.
Bonus communication tip
Make sure to practice these communication techniques at a time where you’re both receptive and resilient enough to handle whatever comes up.
Neutral ground can also help. Sometimes it’s easier to talk while you’re on a walk or even at a cafe.
How relationship coaching and EFT Tapping can help
Coaching and tapping are some of the tools that I know and love that can assist you in overcoming this fear of being seen.
They can help you get to the root of and significantly reduce the fear of getting hurt when revealing your perceived "undesirable" qualities.
These mind-body approaches can also help you build confidence, self-acceptance, and stronger emotional connections with others.
I’ll talk more about this in a separate blog post, stay tuned.
So embrace vulnerability and encourage your partner to do the same and you’ll deepen the intimacy and trust in your relationship.
Tip #5 Practice Empathy: Understand Your Partner's Perspective
Empathy plays a crucial role in effective communication.
My top 3 tips for practising empathy in relationships are:
- When discussing sensitive topics, try to really understand your partner's emotions and perspective.
This connects back to what you practised earlier - active listening and “I” statements.
- Ask open-ended questions to gain insight into their feelings. Be curious and encourage them to share.
The more they share, the better you get to understand them, and that will definitely come in handy!
- Validate their emotions by acknowledging their viewpoint. You may not always see things the same way, and that’s ok.
Show compassion by simply acknowledging your partner’s views without negating them or trying to ‘correct’ them. I reckon you would appreciate the same.
These tips go a long way in helping you avoid communication related relationship issues.
Demonstrating empathy will create a wonderfully supportive environment that fosters emotional growth. And who wouldn’t want that?
Also, in case you hadn’t noticed, getting the most out of your romantic relationship involves a lot of personal development and boosting your emotional IQ (a.k.a EQ)!
Tip #6 Schedule Regular "Check-In" Conversations
Establish a routine to check in with each other about your relationship, whether it's weekly, monthly or some other cadence.
These conversations provide an excellent opportunity to discuss any concerns, celebrate milestones, and plan for the future. Things that easily get pushed aside in the day-to-day.
By regularly assessing or simply checking in on your relationship, you can catch potential issues before they escalate and instead lovingly reinforce your commitment to each other.
The RADAR framework
The hosts of the Multiamory podcast even came up with a brilliant acronym and framework for these check-ins.
Multiamory's RADAR framework is a super valuable tool for relationship check-ins, designed to help partners communicate openly, address any concerns, and maintain a healthy connection.
RADAR stands for:
R - Review
A - Agree
D - Discuss
A - Action
R - Reconnect
Get a full breakdown of each step over on Multiamory’s website.
By using the RADAR framework, it’ll be easier to facilitate regular, structured check-ins that lovingly promote open communication, address concerns proactively, and nurture a healthy, supportive partnership.
Give it a go! You can always adapt it over the months to better suit your relationship’s unique needs.
Seek Professional Help When Needed
As always, if you're struggling to communicate effectively despite your best efforts, it might be beneficial to get some external support.
Online relationship coaching can provide a safe space to explore your individual communication challenges and learn new strategies to strengthen your relationship connection.
Effective communication in Relationships
Learning how to have more effective conversations is a vital skill for maintaining a healthy and fulfilling relationship in the long run.
To sum up, my top 3 communication tips are:
- Practise active listening
- Express emotions effectively
- Embrace vulnerability
By following these tips you will foster much more open and honest communication with your partner.
Remember, strong communication skills not only strengthen your partnership but also contribute to your personal growth and well-being.
Cheers to nurturing a thriving and loving relationship!