Relationships can be hard work sometimes. Especially when there are external stressors resulting in further pressure on the individuals in the partnership. When issues arise within your relationship, do you communicate with your other half? Or do you retreat into yourself? How long do issues go before they end up boiling to the surface, resulting in an angry outburst from either side? Below I will go into how to encourage communication within your relationship.
In 2019, divorces had a huge increase of 18% according to statistics released by the Office of National Statistics. The figures of 2020 are still to come but are expected to be even higher, given the increasing strain put on couples during the global pandemic. From Autumn of 2021, married couples will no longer be required to give a reason for the ending of a marriage, and non-fault divorces may result in yet another increase in the stats.
Lately, I have had a lot of interest in my couples counseling services, as couples have spent the last year locked in together. This has put a huge strain on relationships, and feelings of resentment and frustration have boiled to the surface. Due to the increase in interest in marriage or couples counseling, I thought I would create this helpful blog for those who are struggling to communicate in their relationship.
Why is communication important in relationships?
Communication is vital for a healthy, thriving relationship. Lack of communication with our partner can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. These feelings can build up and result in resentment, which then leads to arguments or ceasing communication entirely.
If you are feeling frustrated in any way, then it’s best to talk about those feelings and the reason behind them. Otherwise, frustrations will fester and eventually lead to bitterness and resenting your other half. If you want a healthy, flourishing relationship, it is important to communicate about your days, but also about the deeper things in life.
Don’t forget that talking isn’t just important, but it is essential to listen well too and really listen, not just interrupt and say your piece. So, how can you encourage communication in your relationship?
1. Try an active listening exercise.
Often mistakes are made whilst we are communicating with our loved ones. This could be daydreaming or running away with other thoughts in our minds, another is judging your partner, or only listening to respond or react in a way you have already decided upon. Active listening requires you to stay silent, to really pay attention to your partner’s words, to not judge, and wait until they are ready for you to talk.
Try this simple exercise, and perhaps schedule it in your diary once a week: One of you will go first and spend 10 minutes talking about what they want to, whether that’s an issue, or just about their day or something in their life they would like to talk about. The other person must listen intently and with interest, without interrupting. If needed, questions can be asked but only when there is an appropriate gap to ask them.
After these 10 minutes, it’s then the next person’s turn. These 10 minutes will prove invaluable for each person to be able to either get their point across or feel cherished. Try and practice this regularly, and you will find that you get better with time at listening, even when you’re not doing this activity.
2. Catch up on each other’s day
It’s really important to check in with your partner each day. If you don’t communicate about the little things, sometimes they can build up and you can end up missing bigger parts of their life. Try to have dinner together and ask them how their day was. It will provide you with a habit of communication.
3. Don’t be a mind reader
Without communicating and talking to your partner about an issue, it’s easy to run away with your own thoughts, presume and mind read. But none of this is useful for you going forwards. Assumptions lead to misunderstandings and unnecessary hurt feelings. Approach your partner and spend a few minutes asking them, rather than guessing.
Equally, don’t feel glum when you approach these conversations. Be upbeat, and hopeful when handling the issues and believe that they can improve. This will help to keep you motivated going forwards.
4. Don’t dig
As tempting as it is to mutter those little digs under your breath, it will soon build up and irritate your partner. If you are feeling strongly about something, set time aside to sit down and really delve into the subject with your other half. Another thing you can do to prevent these little digs from building up is by having a regular relationship check-up. Just as you would ask them about their day, or how their work has gone, ask them regularly how they feel the relationship is going.
Relationship check-ins are especially important for when big things are happening, such as engagement, or going on a big holiday. Set time aside to check-in and take on board anything that your partner would like to work on.
5. Tune in to when your partner needs you
Sometimes it’s hard to reach out to your other half. So, if you find them reaching out to you and wanting to discuss anything, make sure you listen and give them your attention. This could be just for general attention, or they may be seeking support from you or affection.
You should also avoid letting things get too bad before reaching out. For example, if you have something stressful going on, fill your partner in on that. Or if you know an event is coming that you feel stressed, or upset about, warn your partner that it may have an effect on you.
6. Show appreciation
Don’t forget to show your partner or other half appreciation after they have spent quality time connecting and communicating with you. Also, be aware of the type of language you are using, tell them how you really feel, and how you have been affected. It’s also important to complement your partner and thank them for when they have done something nice for you. This will show them that you are grateful and do appreciate them. In turn, this avoids resentment building in partnerships.
Don’t forget to flirt with your partner too! No matter how long you have been together, flirting is really important to keep that spark alive.
When should you communicate with your partner?
Pick a time where you can devote time to each other, especially if you are approaching a big subject. Or if you are frustrated and cross about something, don’t bring it up when you can be interrupted or will run out of time. Instead, set a time aside for later on to discuss it. Don’t forget to put your phones out of the way too. Also don’t have important discussions when you’re really tired, or under the influence of alcohol.
Don’t keep it all bottled up, it’s important to reach out. Relationship counseling offers you that safe, non-judgemental space to reach out to your partner with the help of an expert.
If you need further help with communication with your partner, get in touch with me, Tracy Kimberg, today. I can offer couples relationship counseling, either separately, or together.