Communication, More Than Just Words
“You never listen.”
“You shut me out.”
“Your work is more important than me.”
“Why do you take decisions without consulting me?”
“You never take responsibility for your actions”
Rings a bell? Those are some of the statements that partners often make when expressing dissatisfaction in the way communication is handled.
Communication constitutes an essential, indispensable component of any successful relationship, even more so if it is a romantic one.
Here’s why. Effective communication with your partner allows you to share your ideas, thoughts, and feelings. It transforms the intrapersonal -what is on your mind, to the interpersonal – what is now shared with your partner. This process allows you to create a strong bond and to consolidate it. During daily conversations, it fosters trust and connectedness. In more intimate moments, it can allow you to open up about your sexual desires, needs, and fantasies – which could be different than those of your partner. Effective communication is not only important for building intimacy and closeness, it also plays a crucial part in times of crisis. It helps you push through, find common ground, and establish a safe space where the both of you feel heard, appreciated, and acknowledged. Partners can’t always be expected to say the right things at the right time, but they should be able to share their awkward or difficult thoughts and feelings.
One thing worth noting is that communication is not exclusively about words, about what you say, it is also about how you say it. It starts with your intention and is reflected in your tone of voice and body language. In addition to that, communication does not have this much to do with how much you fight with your partner or what you fight over. However, how you fight is what you want to pay attention to. Effective communication means being able to convey a message while taking into account your partner’s perspective and reaction. Not only will this allow both of you to connect and be in sync, but it will also allow for an accurate understanding of where your relationship stands. Hence, communication is a multilayered concept that we should think of as a process rather than an end result.
Easier said than done…So what are some ways through which you can adopt and foster healthy communication habits with your partner?
- Remember it is about the two of you
When you argue with your partner, do you feel the need to be right or prove a point? Try to initiate a conversation with the intention to take into consideration your partner’s point of view and perspective. Ask yourself: What was it like for them? How did they live this experience? Why did they behave this way? This is not to say that what you are feeling is not valid. You are entitled to your feelings, but keep in mind that a coin always has two sides.
- Focus on the issue at hand
When having a conversation with your partner, do you focus on what the conversation is actually about, or do you bring up past mistakes? If you are expressing your concern for a certain behavior you noticed in your partner, something they did that bothered you, bringing up past mistakes could drift you from the topic at hand and stir up negative feelings. If you believe that an issue is unresolved, you can always discuss past behaviors and mistakes, but let each conversation be its own. It is important to choose the right time to have these discussions; make sure you are both calm and willing to listen to one another.
- Express your expectations
When arguing with your partner, try to be as clear as possible about your expectations of them. For example, if your partner behaved in a certain way that did not please you, try to ask yourself: Were they aware of how this would make me feel? Answering this question would let you know in which direction to stir the conversation. In such situations, try to be as honest as possible about where you stand, how it makes you feel, and what you ultimately like hope to achieve together.
- Listen to your partner
After being fully present in the conversation, focusing on the issue at hand, and expressing your needs and wants, now is the time to listen to your partner and to allow them to express themselves and share their experience. A conversation is never complete when it is one sided. Actually, a conversation is a moment of exchange. This not only means being able to listen silently, but also paying attention to non-verbal cues and most importantly being flexible, showing empathy and compassion. Try to understand them better by asking yourself: What are their intentions? What are they trying to express? How can I support them and make them feel heard?
Love is a precious feeling, one that can satiate you and satisfy your hunger for connectedness. However, without the essential ingredient that is communication, love can taste bitter. So add a little sweetness to your relationship and communicate with your loved one.