How to Improve Communication in Your Relationship According to Experts
Want your relationship to last? Communication is a big part of that. Learn to communicate, and the relationship can grow and thrive. Bonus: good communication helps your sex life, too.
Not sure how to make that happen? We turned to a few relationship experts for help.
Find the Right Time to Talk
It’s easy to jump into what’s on your mind, regardless of whether your partner is ready to listen, Relationship coach, Sara Russell advises slowing things down. “Cheque-in with each other. Is now a good time to talk? How important is it? How long will it take? Give people the chance to opt-in to conversations, rather than doing a drive-by. It gives everyone the chance to be centered and prepared.”
Communication isn’t just about what you say. It’s about listening to your partner, too. “You want your partner to feel heard, appreciated, and supported in your relationship, and in order to do so, you need to understand their point of view,” explains Dr. Carolina Pataky, a marriage therapist and co-founder of the Love Discovery Institute. “Listen to your partner’s story without automatically jumping or thinking about what your response may be. You may miss vital information when you do this and can leave your partner feeling unheard and as if you’re uninterested in who they are.”
Communication problems are rarely one-sided. Owning where you’ve gone wrong is an important part of the process, according to Dr. Pataky. “You must take responsibility for your role in communication and find ways to embrace closeness even if it uncomfortable and scary. By taking responsibility for your role in creating the emotional distance you are able to connect to yourself and your partner in a new and much more fulfilling way.”
Share Your Feelings
“Make sure you recognize your needs and wants in your relationship and clearly express those to your partner,” says Dr. Pataky. “You want to be non-judgmental and use sentences like, “I am feeling sad” not, “You make me feel sad.” You aren’t blaming your partner for their actions nor are you leaving room for them to guess your emotions. You want to allow your partner into your world and let them know your observations, thoughts, and opinions. Practicing honesty, bravery, and vulnerability in your relationship can be a powerful aphrodisiac.”
Focus on Your Partner
Body language is a big component of communication. Your words matter but your body speaks, too. “Look at the person you are communicating with,” says health and wellness coach Leslie Shull, founder of Let’s All Flourish. “This means several things. Put down what you are doing, face them, and look them in the eyes. Communicate with your entire body by relaxing, folding your hands in your lap, leaning back comfortably, letting the person know you have time for them and want to talk with them.”
Ask What Your Partner Wants
Have you ever vented to your partner, but all they did was offer a thousand solutions you didn’t ask for? Chances are you’ve done it to them, too. Shull says to ask before jumping in. “Before jumping in with your two cents, ask permission first. Ask if they would like your opinion. Ask if they are looking for ideas or if they would just like to vent. It is quite easy to bowl someone over with all of your ideas and then the person who was venting is so sucked up with your stuff that they are forgotten. Be so keenly aware of the person you are talking to that this does not happen.”
Ask for What You Want
Good communication is a two-way street, and sometimes you have to ask for exactly what you want says Russell. “Most of us do an internal negotiation before we approach our partner with a request. We decide what feels reasonable, and present our solution to our partner, assuming they will agree. The problem is, that’s not what usually happens. They come back with a counteroffer, negotiating us even lower, often to the point of dissatisfaction. Rather than asking for what you think you can get, or what you think you deserve, ask for what you actually want.”
Reflect Your Partner’s Words Back to Them
The easiest way to show that you not only hear your partner but you also understand them is to say it back, according to relationship expert and founder of Zivadream, Lynell Ross. “When your partner shares something with you, repeat back to them what they said or at least part of it so they know you understand. This is known as mirroring and makes people feel better about themselves. This works because it makes your partner feel cared for on a deeper level.”
Ask Deeper Questions
Show your partner you genuinely want to understand and hear them by asking questions that matter, advises Ross. “You can use phrases such as, “Tell me more about that,” or “Tell me about your meeting.” If you ask them how they are feeling, and they reply, “Fine,” you can ask again in another way to open up better communication, such as ” You seem a little down. What is going on?” The better you know your partner, the more they will want to understand you. Asking questions also helps clear up misunderstandings and misperceptions which are the main cause of poor communication.”
Whether better communication improves your current relationship or future ones, it’s an important skill to learn. Learning how to share your thoughts and feelings extends to all facets of life, even the sexy parts. Use these skills to become closer to your partner or to suggest using sex toys together. Either way, you’ll get more of what you want!