Communication is a supremely important part of being with your partner. Do you often worry about how to improve communication in relationships and subsequently develop a better bond with your partner? Believe it or not, there are actually simple ways to improve communication in relationships that can help it blossom.
Even though we know that respectful communication is important, we all make communication mistakes. Healthy communication helps you create a healthy dynamic and increases a sense of belonging. However, the problem is that most couples don’t understand the difference between talking and communicating.
Improving communication means having to talk about things beyond the surface and going deep. It also means listening to what your partner is not saying. And you don’t need to try very hard. There are simple, tried, and tested ways to improve communication in relationships that can help you connect better with your loved ones.
You need to start with the very basics when you think of ways to improve communication in relationships – then you can look forward to having positive social and romantic interactions. To throw some expert insights on the matter, we have with us today relationship and intimacy coach Shivanya Yogmayaa (internationally certified in the therapeutic modalities of EFT, NLP, CBT, REBT), who specializes in different forms of couple’s counseling.
What causes poor communication in relationships?
I can assume that recently, a huge emotional and physical gap has taken place between you and your partner, and you cannot help but wonder, “What are we doing wrong? How did we become so distant from each other?” Well, you should probably look into the communication mistakes you are making as a couple.
Honestly, how can you expect to improve relationship using communication if both of you spend more time hugging your cell phones and laptops rather than visiting the real world to have an actual conversation? Even in the little time that you manage to set aside for each other, you are constantly distracted and consumed by other thoughts.
Couples can also drift apart due to jealousy or possessiveness portrayed by one or both partners. Several misunderstandings might occur when you are not aware of the other person’s language of love. Also, if you fail to keep your expectations in check and wish your partner to act like a hero who can magically fix everything, you will face difficulties while finding ways to improve communication with your partner.
According to Shivanya, “Majorly, we have found in today’s era that time is the main culprit. Many people don’t feel ready to communicate simply because they don’t have quality time. For those couples, it’s of utmost necessity to find out the perfect timing for open communication.”
11 Ways To Improve Communication In Relationships
Improving communication in a relationship means strengthening the bond of the couple and enhancing the connection. Our expert suggests, “To practice effective communication in relationships, you can take a step ahead by setting a time, holding space for each other, and listening to each other one at a time. One of the healthy ways to improve communication with your partner is to speak without blaming, accusing, or triggering them intentionally.
“You should always be taking ownership of your emotions. For instance, you could say, “I feel this way” rather than saying “You make me feel this way”. You could also check your own communication style. There are three types of communication styles. You might speak from a submissive child’s ego or from a parent’s ego like “I know it all”. And as per the third style, you speak from an adult perspective where you clearly communicate the things that you feel good about and discuss all that is bothering you while asking for your partner’s help and support in finding a solution.
“It’s not always ‘my way or the highway’ in adult communication. You come to a middle ground and meet your partner halfway. If a couple takes all these points into consideration along with the time, the space, and the mood for the conversation, the communication skills in relationships are bound to improve and people become more receptive to each other.”
Like hundreds of other couples, do you also feel, “I struggle to communicate with my partner”? If yes, keep reading to find out 11 ways to improve communication in relationships and develop deeper connections with your loved ones.
Related Reading: 12 Characteristics Of A Successful Marriage
1. Listen as intently as you talk
Disappointingly, everybody loves to talk, but very few are willing to listen. A good conversation is about listening as intently as you talk. You might have experienced an exciting incident during your day, but if you notice that your partner’s day did not go well, put your enthusiasm aside and give your partner space to vent.
It is okay to not say anything or give any advice (unless asked for). More often than not, your significant other shares the bad moments with you for you to listen, not to get any advice. This is also a wonderful way to show that you love your partner. The formula remains the same even during an argument. Listen to the points of your partner instead of jumping into the fight and being defensive. It is important to speak, but it is just as crucial to listen with an open mind.
Shivanya says, “Listening without assumptions, judgment, or interruption might help especially if you are trying to improve communication in a long-distance relationship. Listening with an empathetic heart and open mind can go a long way. You have to realize that there is a difference between hearing and listening. You hear with your ears but you listen with all your senses, with your whole body. Gestures like a nod and eye contact let the other person know that you are truly involved in the conversation without any distraction.”
2. Stop with the assumptions
One of the biggest hindrances in quality communication is assumption. You know our lives are extremely unpredictable and volatile. Your husband could be quiet because of a bad day at work. Your girlfriend could be late because she was stuck in traffic. Assuming the worst is only going to make you lash out unnecessarily at your partner. In fact, it can come in the way of healthy communication in a new relationship when you still don’t know much about your partner and hesitate to direct questions at them.
Being able to understand others’ situations helps you become empathetic. Empathy in a dialogue makes you a better listener, which in turn results in better communication with your partner. Eliminate all possibilities of the ‘must be’ factor in your thoughts and let your partner explain the reason for their seemingly inconsiderate behavior by themselves.
According to Shivanya, “A baseless assumption can mislead us and our partners as it creates more chaos than harmony. You can pass a quick judgment on your partner due to an assumption you made up in your head. So, it’s always better to have an open dialogue to avoid any confusion.
“Ask your partner if you are understanding them correctly or reading their statement on a certain topic the way they intended. Are you willing to improve relationship using communication? Then ask more questions rather than rushing to hasty conclusions, this might create a huge difference between the two of you.”
Related Reading: 8 Ways to Reconnect After a Big Fight
3. Be responsive in a conversation
Couples often complain about their partners not giving appropriate responses to them. You may think you are being a good listener by not talking when they are, but there is more to healthy communication than not speaking. Look into the eyes of your significant other when you’re engaged in a conversation. This would ensure respectful communication in a relationship.
Project a positive, accepting body language. Nodding, smiling, laughing, etc. are all responses of a welcoming communication. Responding non-verbally creates an open space for a person to share everything going on in their mind. Shift your focus to certain communication skills in relationships and you will be able to break the emotional barrier sooner than you expect.
4. Honesty is the key
Silent treatments and lies are the two biggest culprits of the communication gap in relationships. The first step to getting rid of the gap is to be honest with yourself, and the second step is to be honest with your partner. Lying about how you feel might temporarily avert the situation, but it’s going to come back as a bigger threat in the future. For couples deeply in love, it could get uncomfortable to talk about how one really feels. However, immediate honesty is better than long-term regret.
This also means providing an open space for your lover to sincerely speak about their feelings and desires. Try to be vulnerable with your partner, and let them be vulnerable with you. It is always better to explore the potential of a relationship than to build a fort of lies. Honesty is the ultimate way to improve communication in a long-distance relationship. Otherwise, the insecurities might leave a terrible impact on both partners due to the obvious uncertainties.
5. Try to comprehend the unspoken signs
There are times when your partner will be desperately calling for help, but you might not notice it thinking they will talk about it if something is wrong. Effective communication in relationships is not only about having a discussion, but it is also about comprehending the unspoken. Learn to acknowledge your mate’s call for attention. It’s not as much about what they say, as it is about how they say it. The tone, eye contact, and body language, all speak for us more than our speech does.
Try to understand your partner’s signals like lack of eye contact – which means disinterest or shame, shaking legs – which means anxiousness, or a lost mind – which could mean disturbing thoughts. Figure out what your partner is trying to convey when their words fail them. To fix communication in a relationship and communicate better with your spouse or partner, you have to be vigilant about their body language. If you see anything amiss, have a talk at an opportune moment.
6. Indulge in jokes and playfulness
A happy relationship is all about a balance between seriousness and playfulness. Keep playing fun games with your partner. Tease them lightly in a happy manner. Joke with them about something. Laughter is truly the best medicine and a couple that laughs together, stays together. Humor helps you get rid of the daily stress. It also helps couples break free from constant seriousness and frustrations. Playful jokes and a sense of humor are undeniably your best tools if you are trying to improve communication in a new relationship.
7. Quit those blame games
Nothing breaks a healthy routine of communication faster than blame-shifting. In certain relationships, the frequency of a blame game is high to an extent that it takes the shape of domestic abuse or mental harassment. Immediately stop with statements like, “If you wouldn’t have done that, then I wouldn’t have had to do this.” Hurtful words harm the relationship.
Always try to have mature conversations. If an action of your partner bothers you, talk to them about it. Similarly, take responsibility for your actions as well. Apologize if you are wrong and make it right. Don’t accuse your partner of your wrongdoings. Abandoning the blame game will directly improve your communication. You should take steps in conflict resolution and fix your communication with your spouse or partner before it is too late.
Shivanya says, “Blame-shifting tends to ruin a healthy relationship when you are not taking ownership for what you are feeling, especially if your partner is also not giving you a chance to open up in a safe space. Sometimes, it may happen that only one person puts all the efforts into the relationship and asks for quality time, while the other doesn’t reciprocate at all. In such cases, blame games are pretty obvious.
“In a different scenario, one partner may expect the other to take charge of the emotional equilibrium for both of them and hold them responsible for the relationship issues at the same time. Now, that is codependent behavior which can create a lot of mess. It makes the other person feel guilty and triggered. In moments like these, you might want to have a realistic look at the balance in your partnership and gauge how much responsibility you are taking for yourself.”
8. Have varied discussions
Take a step forward and go beyond regular, everyday small talks about your day and its incidences. Talk about new things apart from your regular lives. Discuss politics, books, music, art, etc. Have creative debates. Defend your side. Stimulate your intellect. An intelligent couple never runs out of interesting discussions and they develop intellectual intimacy.
It is very important to have an opinion about things. If you don’t shy away from putting your heads together discussing your opinions, you’ll never run short of improved communication. “I struggle to communicate with my partner as we have literally nothing to talk about after being together for so many years,” says Sophie, 29.
Shivanya suggests, “Over a period of time, we become very familiar with our partner’s nature, hobbies, challenges, aspirations, and so on. If that is the case, you should step out and meet more people. Maybe invite your friends or go on a double date with another couple and you will see there is still a lot to discover about your partner. When you are in the company of other people, you don’t discuss the bills or the children, rather, you get into more interesting topics of conversation.
“Another way is to participate in various couples activities, be it a retreat or a spa weekend. Going to theater and drama shows gives you an opportunity to have thought-provoking conversations. You may try to know each other’s interests all over again and rediscover your long-lost passions. Without such shared activities and recreations, you will fall into the trap of monotony of life.”
9. Keep the flirting alive
You may be with your partner for a couple of weeks or for a couple of years, but don’t let the spark of intimacy die. Nobody enjoys a boring, mundane relationship. Keep romantically flirting with each other, even in public spaces. There are several couples who indulge in role-play and flirt with each other as if they don’t know each other. This puts a fun spin on the relationship, adds humor and spice, and it gives you a chance to improve communication in relationships as well. The flirting can be sweet or sexy, but always try to send chills down your lover’s spine or butterflies in their stomach for as long as you can.
Related Reading: Flirting With Your Eyes: 11 Moves That Almost Always Work
10. Put your phones aside
There is no point showing your followers on Instagram that your relationship is exciting if you and your partner cannot maintain a lively togetherness without your cell phones. It is amusing to dress up and post pictures of your date and food, but being with each other during the date brings you closer to each other.
When you choose not to dive deep into the screen when there is a lovely person sitting in front of you, it portrays how much your partner means to you. Make it a point to put your phone on silent when you are in the company of each other. This will not only improve communication but will also help build trust and love. Gadgets can ruin relationships, so better communicate face to face more often to keep that zing alive.
11. Provide an open space for each other
Having a safe space to talk about something and having a space to maintain your own privacy hold equal importance. If there are issues bothering your partner, you need to provide an open space for them to communicate these problems with you. The communication gap will always persist if your partner finds it difficult to convey something or is afraid to share something with you. Your vibe needs to be welcoming, where your better half does not have to think a lot before discussing something with you.
Alternatively, your partner also needs their space. Surely, there might be things you don’t find necessary to talk about with your partner. Your partner could feel the same way as well. Do not go about sneaking on your partner or checking their messages when they are not around. Trust them with all your heart and respect their privacy. This will ensure that your relationship is safe from doubts and deceits, and your communication with your lover will thrive.
You cannot always guarantee a smooth, trouble-free means of communication, but there is always a scope for a relationship to be successful with improved communication. With these tenets, you can put in better efforts to make sure that the communication gap between you and your partner is thinner than ever.
Put to use these simple ways to improve communication in relationships and share with us how they helped. We’d be happy to hear from you. And if you ever seek professional guidance, skilled and experienced counselors on Bonobology’s panel of experts are here for you.
Keep your gadgets away, have more face-to-face interactions, understand the unsaid, have trust in your partner, and be honest that your relationship lacks communication and it needs to be fixed.
It makes the invisible gap wider, you keep festering inside, you end up assuming things, and then one fine day, you realize that you have drifted apart to the point of no return.
You can communicate better with your partner if you can show empathy. Communication is not about talking and telling your side of the story, it’s about listening and understanding that your partner needs you to lend your ear, and that you don’t need to follow it up with advice every time.
Good communication makes a relationship strong and healthy and you can establish healthy boundaries that could include emotional boundaries too. But lack of communication can lead to the partners drifting apart in a relationship and eventually leading separate lives.
Communication is the key to solving every relationship issue. Relationships are complex things and unless you tell your partner what you want and what hurts you the most, you cannot reap the benefits of communication. Respectful communication can fix serious issues like lack of intimacy and breach of trust.