You've heard it before in lots of different ways: one of the most important foundations of an awesome relationship is good communication. But what does this actually mean? And more importantly, how do you know if you’re practicing the right communication skills to nurture and grow your most important relationships?
Read on to learn about the two most important things you need to do to communicate effectively with your significant other. Plus, we offer you tips on immediately apply these elements into your lives as a couple to help you grow a lasting romantic relationship.
EXPRESS YOURSELF WITH TACT AND RESPECT
Some people believe that effective communication is about honestly expressing what you feel at the moment you feel it, all the time. Even when the “honest expression of their feelings” leads them to throw things at their partners’ heads or call them derogatory names in front of their children, these people will still express their emotions however their instinct is telling them to. After all, they're just being honest about what they feel, right?
It’s true that being honest with your partner is a key factor in making your relationship work. But you have to remember to consider the other person’s feelings when telling the truth and to consider other people who might be drawn into your private issues should you choose to do so before an audience. When you’re angry at your spouse or boyfriend, your emotions can make you say or do things you may regret later on. The thing to remember about communication is that everything you express affects your relationship, and these effects can often be permanent.
Tip for Growing a Better Relationship: Always know in advance what you want to happen after you’ve discussed something with your partner, then make sure you choose the right words, timing, and tone to take when talking about it. This will make it more likely to happen.
Let’s say that you’re looking for a little lambing at the end of a really bad day at work, but you know that your guy has had an equally tiring day and may not be up for a quick cuddle. If you start griping about your boss while he’s still trying to relax, chances are he'll just snap and say, "Why don't you quit, then?" This will leave you feeling even more frustrated and misunderstood—and he’ll probably be feeling the same.
But if you wait until you’ve both had a little time to relax and maybe snuggle up to him after dinner, you can then softly say, "I love my job, but I had a really bad day today..." When he asks you what happened, you know he's ready to listen, and you will have learned a little bit more about each other and your relationship.
CREATE AND STRENGTHEN YOUR CONNECTIONS
Deciding on which movie to watch or discussing where you'll get the money for another round of tuition payments for the kids can result in potentially divisive conversations, but these situations also present you with the opportunity to grow closer as a couple and better understand where you’re both coming from.
If you and your man are married or in a long-term relationship, you may find that the stresses and worries of daily life sometimes pit you against one another. The best way to avoid this is to remember that you love each other and that you're both on the same side. Make a conscious effort to address problems as a team, and you’ll find it gets easier to work as a unit the longer you’re in your relationship.
Tip for Growing a Better Relationship: Focus on the issue that needs to be solved and not how you think your partner is being unhelpful.
For example, if you're worried about money because your partner has been out of a job, then talk about "your money problem" and work together to find ways to solve it. Aside from the fact that men naturally spring to action when you give them a problem to solve, this also puts the spotlight on just the issue and not your partner.
And as for those moments when all is well (or not so well, but what the heck), remember to connect with each other using humor. Laugh, kid around, tickle each other, make a joke out of petty issues, lighten up, and have fun! After all, you’re in a relationship with someone who loves you and whom you love back, and that's reason enough to smile and tell the world that you're happy.
Read the other articles in FN's Relationships 101 series:
(Photo by via Flickr Creative Commons)
Tune in to The Wake Up Show
at 8:00 AM on Mellow 94.7 this Monday, February 14, 2011, (Valentine's Day!) and listen to relationship coach Aileen Santos as she talks to DJs Vince and Tracy about love and relationships—and how single people can survive and thrive during the month of hearts!