The way we communicate makes all the difference in relationship. Whether it builds connection or creates distance. In our romantic relationships, it is easy over time to get stuck in communication patterns that wreck and undermine our relationship. 84% of my last 44 enquiries named communication as an issue or were at crisis point where communication is inevitably affected.
We all have a choice as adults about what we say. So how do we build stronger, happier romantic relationships through our communication?
Here are 5 things you can do to help yourself and your relationship:
- Be clear about your own needs
Healthy relationships need two healthy individuals. So, whilst it can feel counter-intuitive to focus on yourself to help your relationship, it is vital. This does not mean you expect your partner to meet your every need! In fact, the reverse. By knowing what you need, you are in a better place to meet these needs for yourself, or clearly ask your partner for their support. Want to understand more and what this looks like? Then this video is for you.
- Stop the blame game
How often do you point a finger at something your partner has said or done? Next time catch yourself. Notice what you didn’t like about it, and what you did in the run up. Stop telling your partner off or shaming them. Instead share how you are feeling, what you don’t like about their behaviour and why. So, rather than ‘you made me feel X by doing Y’, this is about saying ‘I feel X. I don’t like it / when you do Y because…’ Alternatively, you might find you blame your partner to avoid something you have done and feel guilty or uncomfortable about. In which case, having the courage to apologise and take responsibility for your own behaviour is likely create connection, if you mean it. Want more context for how to make this change? Try this video with guided exercises.
- Speak with your partner
Do you avoid and withdraw? It is important to realise that a lack of communication is still communication. Your partner is left to interpret your absence and make assumptions which will probably not be a real reflection of you. Withdrawal and silence can equate to anger and punishment, and it is worth checking to see if this is true for you. Break the habit and make the effort to share more of yourself. This video can help you understand distancing within relationships.
- Stop name calling
It doesn’t matter how angry you are, calling your partner names or swearing at them is destructive. Both to their self-esteem and your relationship. Anger is no excuse, as adults we have a choice about what we say. For some, it will be normal to deceive yourself and believe you have no power in the heat of the moment. However, in relationships there is enormous power in giving yourself permission to say whatever you want, whatever the impact. Notice the moment where you step over the line and practice moving away from your partner or counting to 10. It is time to take responsibility and address this before you lose the people around you, even if it means talking with someone about your underlying rage and anger. Read my blog about Valuing and Managing Emotions to help you here.
- Express your gratitude to your partner
The latest research shows us that thinking about what we are grateful for has potentially lasting beneficial effects on our brains and to our sense of wellbeing and happiness. Thanking our partner or expressing gratitude for their actions, thoughts or words is a powerful way to create more happiness and connection. Sharing gratitudes daily with each other is a practise I recommend to couples who want to rebuild their connection, as they recover from a difficult time in their relationship.
The Power to Change
If you are sad, fed up or angry in your relationship and want something to change, you have the power to start. By waiting for your partner to get it or be ready you are avoiding the inevitable and prolonging whatever you are feeling. They say madness lies in repeating the same thing and expecting a different result, so why not experiment with the options above?
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