how to communicate better with your partner
Effective communication is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship. And the most important part of that sentence is ‘effective’. Because lots of couples communicate on a regular basis, thinking all is sunshine and rainbows, until the most random conversation escalates in the span of a few seconds. Thus, learning how to communicate better with your partner is the best thing you can do for your relationship or marriage.
And it’s really not a complicated skill to acquire. We’ve simplified things considerably by listing 11 wonderful tips that will help you communicate like a pro. Our focus lies in identifying a few common mistakes that individuals make while conversing in a romantic space. Once you’ve got a sense of these communication roadblocks, we’ll work on overcoming them. With the guidance of psychologist Jayant Sundaresan, let’s explore the ways to improve communication with your partner.
Why Do I Struggle To Communicate With My Partner?
There’s no standard answer to this question because every individual communicates in a unique and deeply personal manner. However, there are a few signs of bad communication in a relationship that can help you spot problematic patterns. Jayant explains, “There are always preliminary indicators of a problem, nothing develops out of the blue. You know there’s trouble at hand when every conversation becomes a fight. A very normal discussion will morph into a shouting match in the blink of an eye.
“You should also watch out for anger being expressed in an unhealthy manner. Taunts, passive-aggression, personal attacks, etc. are not conducive to conflict resolution. Other red flags include an aversion to heavy conversations, prolonged periods of silence, and repeated allusions to issues from the past. Alternatively, there could be a gap in the communication styles that you and your partner have. Everybody is wired to converse differently; maybe your approach doesn’t get through to your better half and vice versa.”
Under these circumstances, how to communicate better with your partner? It’s important to understand that there’s no quick fix to poor communication habits. They are cultivated over a period of time with consistent effort and patience. While we can’t give you any magic formulas to speed things up, we can certainly steer you in the right direction so your hard work bears fruit. Take a look at these ways to communicate better with your spouse or partner.
11 Expert Tips To Communicate Better With Your Partner
Relationships and marriages are negotiated. Two people from completely different walks of life – carrying different visions, ambitions, and approaches – reconcile their ways to build a future together. Communication is the means through which partners negotiate, compromise, and resolve their problems. This is precisely why the signs of bad communication in a relationship are a cause for alarm. Well, let’s fix those, shall we?
Maybe you’re a poor communicator yourself, or maybe you want to tell your partner to communicate better. Perhaps you two are trying your best but your conversations are hit-and-miss. Regardless of where you come from, these tips are going to be highly beneficial to your relationship. Try and imbibe them as far as possible. If you keep at it consistently, you’ll notice a marked improvement in the quality of the discussions you have with your better half. Here’s how to communicate better with your partner in 11 easy ways.
Related Reading: Ultimatums In Relationships: Do They Actually Work Or Cause Harm?
1. Communicate to resolve conflicts
Jayant says, “The objective of any conversation should be overcoming or resolving the problem. Don’t engage in a discussion to ‘win’ against your partner. Once the goal is clear, the communication that takes place will be balanced. It’s always the couple vs. the problem, not Partner A vs. Partner B. If you’re handling a disagreement with the intention of teaching your partner a lesson, it’s quite unhealthy.
“Keep the bigger picture in mind, i.e., the relationship and the life you share with them. Always communicate to resolve, not conquer.” This is one of the most important ways to improve communication with your partner or spouse. When you converse to sort out conflicts, there’s almost no room for condescension or disrespect. You stop seeing your significant other as an adversary. The next time you have a quarrel, be sure to keep this in mind.
2. Listen, register, and process
What’s one of the biggest mistakes couples make while communicating? Jayant explains, “I think partners listen to reply rather than understand. When Partner A is speaking, Partner B is busy formulating what they’ll say to one-up it. It becomes a battle of comebacks rather than a meaningful conversation. One should always listen to gauge the other’s perspective. Hear them out, process what they’ve said, and you will step into their metaphorical shoes for a few moments.”
Don’t think about what you’ll say next and be present in the moment. This is precisely how to communicate better with your partner. Mindful listening enhances the relationship by leaps and bounds. In fact, check in with your better half every now and then – “how was your day today?”, “are you doing okay these days?”, or “is there something I can do for you?” Similarly, pay attention to their non-verbal cues through body language. You will understand their frame of mind well.
3. How to communicate better with your partner? Be respectful at all times
Respect is one of the relationship qualities that makes life bliss. And you should never, ever communicate without being respectful. Jayant says, “Respect is an indispensable aspect of communication. If there’s an argument where the two of you have opposing points of view, then respect the differences too. Don’t belittle, dictate, shame, or embarrass your partner. We’re all fallible mortals, we all make mistakes. Remember this, especially when you’re in the right and they’re in the wrong.
“How we conduct ourselves when we’re occupying the high ground is what matters. In those moments, your partner won’t have a defense for anything you say. And you will technically have the leeway to be mean. But I hope you don’t do so because people remember how we make them feel. Be kind, empathetic, and above all, respectful.” If you think you’re being disrespected in a conversation, tell your partner to communicate better right away and draw an emotional boundary.
4. Articulate your thoughts well
Jayant says, “It’s essential to have clarity on your end. If you’ll try to convey half-baked thoughts that even you haven’t completely processed yet, how will your partner make sense of them? Sit with yourself and detangle your ideas. What is it that you want to say? You can have the discussion in a composed and calm manner when you have figured this out. It’s important to articulate well because your partner can’t read your mind.” It is your responsibility to communicate your emotional needs in a relationship.
Practicing mindfulness through yoga, journaling, or meditation can help you immensely. Arrive at a place of peace and self-awareness before approaching your partner. This will prevent scattered thoughts and confusion. You’re also less likely to lose track of the subject or veer into other directions. What goes for you, goes for your partner too. Instead of making assumptions, encourage them to be clearer in expression too. (Want to know more about how to communicate better with your partner? Keep reading!)
5. Avoid placing blame on your partner
Blame-shifting by partners is one of the biggest signs of bad communication in a relationship. Jayant elaborates, “When you fling accusations, the person is more likely to get defensive. There’s a very simple thing you can do to avoid placing blame. Rather than starting your sentences with “you”, begin with “I”. Don’t say, “You forgot our anniversary, who does that?” Say, “I felt very hurt because you forgot our anniversary.” Explain how their actions made you feel – you will get your point across easily.”
The “I” rule is one of the finest ways to improve communication with your partner. Allegations and blame always make tempers flare during a disagreement. There’s a high chance that the couple will begin trading ugly accusations instead of conversing in a healthy manner. Anger management in a relationship is crucial at all times; don’t engage in blame games if you want to communicate efficiently.
6. How to communicate better with your partner? Don’t bring up past arguments
It’s a futile exercise to recollect arguments from the past. Jayant explains, “Using something your partner said in an old argument as ammunition is a bad practice. In moments of anger and frustration, we tend to say things that aren’t phrased well. But the context of the situation serves as an explanation for those utterances. When you pluck out the things said or done in the past, you’re removing their context. Concentrate on the here and now.
“Avoid making sweeping generalizations too. “You always do this” or “You never do what I want” have troublesome implications. They seem to say that your partner hasn’t grown a bit and is making the same mistakes again and again. Generalizations will make them defensive too.” Unless you’re trying to point out recurring behavior patterns, keep the past at bay. It will just steal focus from the actual issue and make the conversation complex. (It’s not like your partner won’t bring up your old mistakes too.)
Related Reading: 9 Things To Do When Every Conversation Turns Into An Argument
7. Focus on the emotional aspect before you tell your partner to communicate better
American author and life coach Anthony Robbins said, “To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” Rigidly sticking to logic and/or reason during a conversation is not a very good course of action. Your focus should be on the emotional message being sent across. Jayant says, “For instance, don’t correct your partner’s grammar or pronunciation; that means you’re battling semantics.
“A discussion has a natural flow to it. It’s entirely possible that your partner says something that appears to be contradictory to what they said before. Try and get to the emotional crux of their argument instead of striving for correctness in speech.” Of course, you should point out hypocrisy or double standards. But don’t assume the role of a teacher or be intellectually condescending. Understand what your significant other’s concern is. Are they struggling with trust issues? Do they want your support? Or are they feeling insecure?
8. State what you need clearly
Communicate your needs in a relationship explicitly. If your partner is struggling to provide you with the correct emotional resources, tell them how to go about it. Jayant says, “A relationship should lead to growth and happiness. If this is not happening for you, if your spouse or partner is not facilitating this, you should have an honest conversation and convey what they can do. Say, “I need you to do _______ for me.” Don’t hesitate to be straightforward. Your partner will be glad to give you what you need.”
Here are a few examples: “I need you to be less critical of my endeavors so that I feel motivated and supported”, “I need you to be more affectionate because the lack of physical intimacy isn’t compatible with my love language” or “I need you to be more responsive when I’m speaking because I don’t feel heard.” This is one of the most direct ways to communicate better with your spouse or partner.
Related Reading: Importance of Respect In A Relationship
9. Ways to improve communication with your partner – Don’t multitask while communicating
Jayant says, “Don’t check your phone, don’t get up to make coffee, and don’t get distracted by something trivial while your partner is speaking. It is quite disrespectful to pay attention to other things while a conversation is taking place. If you were in an interview setting, for instance, the panel would have your undivided focus. The same respect that you’d extend to strangers should be reserved for your partner too.
“Never have important discussions while driving because you aren’t facing each other. You can’t see each other’s body language or expressions. Be sure to communicate with commitment.” There’s so much truth to this. Phubbing (phone snubbing) ruins more relationships than you might expect. If you truly want to learn how to communicate better with your partner, avoid multitasking as a rule. Channel all your senses and energy toward the conversation.
10. Don’t avoid heavy conversations
How to communicate better with your partner? By actually talking to them – and not just about the happy things. Uncomfortable discussions are a part and parcel of being with someone. There are bound to be points of contention and you have to navigate the rough patch by hashing it out. Yes, they’re emotionally taxing, often frustrating, and very challenging to have. But look at heavy conversations as avenues to communicate your needs in a relationship.
Jayant says, “Problems fester and become worse when they’re neglected. It’s best to deal with them head-on. Don’t try to escape these conversations with excuses. More importantly, don’t shut down your partner or leave when things get disagreeable. A good way to tackle such distressful topics is by scheduling the conversation. Don’t spring it on your partner; give prior intimation and meet in a calm and composed manner. Preparedness will always help you communicate better.”
Related Reading: Top 9 Tips To Build Trust In Relationships
11. Opt for couple’s counseling and learn how to communicate better with your partner
It’s a good idea to call in some reinforcements when things are looking blue in the communication department. Jayant says, “Reaching out to a professional for couple’s counseling can work in your favor for multiple reasons. Firstly, the therapist will rectify any unhealthy thinking styles that you and your partner have. Secondly, they will meet you individually as well as together to reach the root of the problem. And thirdly, they will help you practice healthy communication with guidance.”
If you’re considering seeking help, skilled and experienced counselors on Bonobology’s panel of experts are here for you. They can help you assess your situation better and help you learn how to communicate better with your partner. We’re here for you while you acquire the habits of a healthy relationship. Kudos to you for taking this step in the right direction.
This brings us to the end of our journey. Those were the ways to communicate better with your spouse or partner. What did you think of them? If we’ve missed anything, please write to us or drop a comment below. It’s always lovely to hear from our readers! In the meanwhile, we hope your conversations are effective and smooth. May you always communicate like a champion.
There’s no ‘best’ way per se, but there are a few habits you can cultivate to communicate efficiently. They include listening to your partner, being respectful at all times, aiming for conflict resolution, and articulating your thoughts well. Take a look at our list of 11 ways to communicate better with your spouse or partner to know more.
You can address the issue with them directly by having an open and honest conversation. It might also be a good idea to opt for couple’s counseling where a licensed practitioner can help you work on your communication skills.
Absolutely. Communication is an indispensable quality of a healthy relationship. It is vital for conflict resolution, building trust, working toward common goals, and companionship. A relationship runs a high risk of becoming toxic/dysfunctional when there’s no communication.