A relationship is made up of two individuals coming in with past hurts, experiences and history. This generally tends to be a huge adjustment because it is made up of two people not one. And these two different human beings have different modes of communication that have been learnt long ago, however good communication is a skill and can be learnt.
It is important to note that talking to your partner does not equate communicating. If your conversation ranges on the 'surfacey' type conversations like the weather, work, the kids, church functions and so on you are not talking on a personal or intimate level.
Communication in your relationship can be improved daily with a few changes. Here are a few tips you can try today.
- Make time to talk or connect daily with your spouse.
Set aside 15 minutes or more daily to talk with your partner without distractions (cellphones, t.v. etc.). Avoid talking too much about work or work related activities, things that need to be done at home, the kids etc. This is your time to talk as a couple. Ask your partner about how they are doing (emotionally, physically, what is going with them, if needed ask how you can help). Knowing where your partner is at in their mind is helpful for keeping a relationship healthy, lots of problems arise because of missing this simple but vital part of communicating. It is a sure way to remind your partner daily that they matter.
- Stop and listen.
STOP: Sometimes we are so busy with life and things that need to get done that we do not really listen to our partners, and we miss important points or worse or partner feels hurried off. We all are busy but when you are talking to your partner stop and listen. Remind yourself that there are 24 hours in a day, so what will 5-10 minutes of my undivided attention mean for myself and my spouse?
- They will feel heard, respected and loved; And you will know him or her better.
- After you listen, you will be on your merry way to carry on with what you have to do with your spouse's approval.
LISTEN: Sometimes it is hard to put aside what you have to do or say to listen to your spouse, especially when you have a point to pose. However while your spouse is talking put aside your thoughts and opinions to listen to what he or she is saying. Listen and truly make efforts to understand where they are coming from, even if you are tempted to think their point is stupid (face it, we have all thought that!). Focus more on the learning who your spouse is and why they think and feel as they do. You may even want to ask questions in a gentle and loving way so that you have a clearer understanding.
- Make every effort to hear your spouse.
You have stopped talking and are trying to listen to what he or she has to say. There are a ton of thoughts and responses going on in your head. Ask yourself this, am I really hearing my spouse? This is one of the biggest pitfalls in relationships, we listen but do not hear because we know the person is wrong, or they don't make sense, so on and so on. Remember this is not a contest about who is right or wrong, it is about understanding the other person. So no need to get defensive, the individual is not your enemy, put down all the armor, listen and hear. Ask questions at the appropriate time so you are sure you heard what you thought you heard, because at times we can mis interpret our partners as well (two individuals can experience the same event very differently).
No one is a perfect communicator all the time. You can however learn to be a better communicator by trying these few tips. It may not all work at once but better communication, starts with one person making the effort to improve, which often encourages and inspire the other one to join in.
Keep at it, your relationship is worth it. Anything is possible.
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