When you’re a couple, your conversation skills can draw you closer together or drive you apart. Do you give each other love and support, or do you resort to nagging and shutting down?
You might assume that loving your partner would be enough, but most of us can benefit from practicing interacting effectively. In fact, almost 70% of divorces are caused by communication breakdowns, according to a study by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
Make your relationship more satisfying and durable. Try these tips for developing your communication skills.
Communication Skills for Daily Life
Heated arguments might be the first thing you think of when you hear about communication troubles. However, the way you treat each other during ordinary moments matters too.
Keep these tips in mind:
- Focus on giving. Your married life will run more smoothly if you both spend more time thinking about what you’re contributing to your relationship, instead of what you’re getting out of it. Look for ways to nurture each other.
- Express appreciation. It’s easy to start taking your partner for granted. Remember to thank them when they do something thoughtful. Write love notes and praise them in public.
- Ask questions. Your partner cannot read your mind, so you sometimes need to clarify what they’re saying to avoid misunderstandings. Speak directly and tactfully. Try to see situations from their perspective.
- Listen closely. Give each other your full attention. Make eye contact. Turn off the TV and put down your phone when your partner is talking with you.
- Spend time together. Invest in your relationship. Put aside time to talk and do things together on a regular basis. Eat family meals at least once a day as much as possible. Schedule date nights and romantic outings.
Communication Skills for Settling Differences
Disagreements are natural, but it’s up to you how you handle them. Resolving conflicts skillfully could even strengthen your relationship.
These tips can help you resolve differences in a healthy and positive way:
- Establish priorities. Be selective. Before you raise an issue, ask yourself if it’s really worth pursuing. Letting little things go will allow you to focus more energy on the areas that have more impact on your happiness and wellbeing.
- Act promptly. Do you keep silent in the hope that disturbing situations will go away on their own? Denial rarely works out. Deal with conflicts head on to keep resentments from building up.
- Calm down. The one exception is when you need time to process intense feelings. Otherwise, anger might lead you to say something you’ll regret later. Let your partner know you want to talk soon and then take a walk to clear your mind.
- Cite specifics. Your discussions will be more productive if you think in terms of behavior rather than personality traits. There’s a difference between asking your partner to put their dirty laundry in the hamper and calling them lazy.
- Seek compromises. Relationships are about give and take. Be willing to meet each other halfway. Maybe you’ll be willing to try square dancing lessons if your partner accepts your weekly poker night.
- Be forgiving. When you remember what you love about your partner, it’s easier to give them the benefit of the doubt. Learn to apologize and move on without keeping score.
- Consider counseling. If you need more help, talk with a professional who specializes in relationships. You might gain insights into your behavior and discover new coping strategies.
The way you talk to each other can make or break your relationship. If you want to be a happy couple, work on your communication skills. Listen to your partner and treat them with respect, so you can build trust and connect on a deeper level.