Updated: Apr 21
So let's say you had planned a lovely, fun day at the beach, swimming in the sea, feeling blissful, building sandcastles and having a lovely picnic with your partner and kids.
Unfortunately when you arrived it was raining and freezing cold and you wanted to stay in the car.
These elements, environment and general factors beyond your control made it so difficult to achieve what you wanted that you ended up disappointed. We can apply this to our relationships; certain fundamental foundations need to be in place for us to have effective relationship communication.
Effective communication in relationships requires a conducive environment and a certain foundation to be already in place.
I believe you can create that foundation for you and your partner with focus, determination and a bit of know how.
The first two parts are down to you, please read on for the know how :)
YOU know that communication is a vital part of your relationship, and you may feel (seeing as you are reading this!) that your partner isn't very good at it :)
However, there are ways that YOU can improve this by simply eliminating or introducing the following habits from/to your relationship.
These steps are simple. Not necessarily easy. (Sorry)
BUT, they simply take focus and a strong firm decision to change because believe me, if you put these in place your relationship can improve dramatically in a short space of time.
You will be happier, your partner will be happier, your kids will be happier, everyone wins.
YOU can do this :)
Are you ready?
There are fundamental conditions that you can create within your relationship that are conducive to effective communication, and YOU can CHOOSE to create them. 1. Take Responsibility.
Blaming or shaming your partner is the antithesis for creating the connection that will create effective communication.
Please acknowledge that you have the power to change or create your relationship as you choose, this is much more empowering and productive than focusing on what they are or aren't doing. So, shift your focus onto being more empowered and make a firm decision to improve your relationship.
2. Pay attention to how you are communicating with them.
Are you criticising, judging, complaining or giving your opinion to them?
This will probably cause them to be defensive, shut down and distance themselves from you.
Doing all of these things literally cuts off your chances of healthy productive communication.
Think about it, do you feel like opening up to someone who just told you you were wrong?
It's not likely. Your partner needs to be able to trust you with their feelings/thoughts, to know that you are a safe place for them to share.
I know, this can be hard to change.
But it is a game changer.
Here are some suggestions to help you master this when you feel like criticising, complaining or judging:
Take a deep breath.
Say something complimentary.
Think of their good qualities.
Say I love you.
Replace the criticism with a positive.
Ask a question.
Just walk away.
Choose words carefully:
Would you please.....?
I would really appreciate it if...
That really helped me out last time, would you mind....?
I love it when we get to talk like this...
Ask them what do you think?
Remember that words are only a small part of communication, eye contact, a touch on the arm, tone of voice, speed of speech are all components of how your partner is going to receive your request/information.
Be aware also of what you want to achieve, what is it you want/need?
You can do this!
3. Create a loving, safe space within your relationship: A big part of this will come naturally when you stop #2. When your partner knows they aren't going to get shot down by you for saying what they think or how they feel they are much more likely to do it.
Another way to do this is to show appreciation for your partner. If you make your partner feel significant, appreciated and loved it will allow them to relax, feel connected to you, and trust you enough to be vulnerable and tell you their feelings. They need to feel certain that you are dependable and are not going to go into reaction.
How can you help your partner to feel more significant? Loved? Appreciated?
I understand you may want these feelings for yourself, and also you may feel vulnerable when doing it.
So if it is difficult for you please take it really slowly.
Small steps :)
4. Make time for it.
Expecting your partner to talk to you when they are driving, thinking about work, trying to eat etc is unlikely to get you the result you desire. Set a time each day/week where you turn off the TV, put phones aside, get a drink and just sit and chat. This creates a relaxing environment.
Don't have an agenda except to just connect with each other, find out what is going on with them, be light hearted. Doing this regularly will help develop communication in your relationship as a habit and you will both get better at it as you go along, it doesn't have to happen the first time.
Even if its just 15 minutes it can be effective.
Ask yourself some questions.
How can I ask for what I desire from them in a way that makes them feel appreciated and loved?
In what areas does our communication need to improve?
Does my partner feel safe/loved enough to open up to me and how can I ensure that they do?
What do I need from my partner?
What does my partner need from me?
What can I add to the relationship to improve communication?
What can I take away?
BE aware :)
In a nutshell:
Do all you can to create trust, vulnerability, safety, significance, connection, gratitude and certainty in your relationship and notice how your partner responds to you.
Be kind to yourself, be patient and don't give up.