Without communication, there is no relationship. These words may sound harsh, but they ring with a truth that many couples find hard to face. Good communication in any relationship is like water to a plant. Without water, the plant won’t grow. Leave it dry long enough, and the plant will wilt and die.
In general, many couples get into arguments simply because they lack good communication skills. The simplest problems can lead to a falling-out when they are not brought out into the open early on. Holding onto hurts and keeping silent about problems leads to a build-up of negative energy between partners. This underlying tension causes strain on a relationship, gives way to more misunderstandings, and increases the frequency of arguments.
When fighting becomes a habit, it results in unhappiness for both partners. Most couples will desperately try to fix the problems that exist on the surface at a given point in time, only to end up wondering why the problems never seem to cease. What they often fail to realize is that there are underlying issues yet to be addressed – one of which is a lack of open, honest, clear communication.
So how can a couple improve their relationship? Well, the first step is to realize the importance of communication. Once they understand that positive, constructive communication is the foundation of a healthy relationship, both partners can work towards improving their communication skills.
One way for a couple to improve their communication skills is to seek couples counseling. The support and guidance provided by a professional relationship counselor can help couples voice their experiences and feelings in a safe and contained environment. If relationship counseling sounds like too big a step for you and your partner to take, here are some key points that may help you and your partner improve your communication:
- Discuss problems at an early stage – Any problem, no matter how small, is best discussed when it is fresh. When couples neglect to do this – whether due to a perceived lack of time, an unwillingness to rock the boat, or any other convenient excuse – the problem becomes bigger over time, often resulting in an argument. Discussing problems early prevents misunderstandings, arguments, and grudges.
- Don’t assume – Most people have different ways of expressing their feelings, and a comment or critique can often be taken the wrong way. When your partner says or does something that bothers you, don’t hesitate to ask your partner what he or she intended.
- Don’t let emotions get the better of you – Fights between couples are always high on emotions. If you find yourself on the verge of an argument, take time out to cool off before saying things you might regret. Even a five-minute break can do wonders in clearing both your heads, and can result in a more constructive conversation.
- Listen – Good communication is not only about saying what’s on your mind… it is also about listening! This means listening to your partner actively and attentively, not guessing what they’re about to say. Both of you have to be willing to give way to each other when speaking, allowing one to finish his or her thoughts before submitting your own. Attentive listening can help clarify misunderstandings, and solve many problems before they begin.
- Practice good communication holistically – Good communication is not only about effectively resolving problems. Rather, it is to be applied throughout a relationship. This includes sincerely complimenting your partner, and honestly praising them for their efforts and endeavors. Positive affirmations can strengthen your mutual intimacy, appreciation, and trust, and can greatly improve your relationship.
If you’re experiencing relationship difficulties and are serious about making positive changes in your relationship, couples therapy is highly recommended. Relationship counseling can provide you the time, space, resources, and skills to communicate with each other more effectively.
Learning and practicing communication skills can be difficult at the beginning. But, once you and your partner begin to make positive communication habitual, it will become easier and you’ll be amazed at the results.
Our relationships begin and end on the power of our communications. Harnessing this power to create a happier, more successful life with your partner is a wise first step. Why not begin today?
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