Want to Improve Communication in Your Marriage or Relationship? Try These 8 Tips
You’ve heard it time and time again, and it’s true: Communication is the foundation of a healthy relationship.
Yet many couples seeking counseling say they need help communicating.
It’s not always easy, but you can learn to communicate better and manage conflicts. Try these approaches:
Relax. If you feel calm, you’re less likely to get defensive. One way to practice feeling calm is to breathe deeply. A simple relaxation strategy is to inhale to a count of four and exhale to a count of seven.
Listen to learn. Let your partner know they have been heard. You may not always agree, but relay that you are invested in understanding their point of view.
Focus on one topic at a time. If there is more than one topic to be resolved, reach an agreement on the first one before moving on.
Speak slowly, softly and briefly. After you state two or three sentences, pause. Let your partner respond. Remember, you’re engaged in a dialogue with both partners voicing concerns and both partners listening.
Focus on positivity and appreciation. Sometimes it’s difficult to like your partner when you’re in the heat of an argument. If you keep in mind that you chose to be with this person for a reason, you’re likely to communicate lovingly.
Have a sense of humor. Learning new skills is never easy. However, agreeing to experiment with new ways of interacting can be enjoyable if you poke fun at the process. Accepting that there will be bumps in the road creates a commitment to keep trying.
We, not I. If one person “wins” in an argument, the relationship usually loses. A successfully resolved conflict doesn’t have a winner and loser. Aim to share your feelings and thoughts as you work toward a solution that works for both of you.
Press pause. If the communication isn’t going well, take a break. Conflicts can’t be resolved when emotions are elevated. Come back to the discussion when you’re both calm.
When a counselor can help
Sometimes communication problems are the result of deeper issues, like an unresolved betrayal from years ago. Or it could be that one or both partners are experiencing anxiety or depression and don’t have the energy or concentration to communicate well.
If the tips outlined here don’t help, it may be time to seek help from a professional counselor. A counselor can:
- Act as an objective third party who facilitates the sharing of thoughts and feelings.
- Provide a safe place to explore differences and approach difficult topics.
- Help you discover patterns that aren’t working and guide you toward new ways of interacting.
For free and confidential counseling for you and your family, contact Best Care EAP. For information, assistance, or to schedule an appointment, call (402) 354-8000 or (800) 801-4182.