You hear it time and time again: communication is key when it comes to healthy relationships. Here’s the thing, though. Knowing that is great, but how do you improve your relationship communication skills? What steps do you actually need to take? Because girl, we all know having a to-do list helps us accomplish tasks so much more efficiently! Don’t worry fam, I’ve got you! Here are the exact steps to take if you want to have great communication in your relationship?
But Who am I to Share This Advice?
Okay, before you’re like “oh this is just another one of those “how to” articles without any real substance, let me share where I’m coming from! My name is Daynna Hartjes, and I’m in a loving, healthy relationship with great communication. My life hasn’t always been perfect, though!
The first relationship I was in was an emotionally abusive relationship with zero communication. You can read more about how I survived an emotionally abusive relationship. Because of this, I’m easily able to compare the two. While Mike (my boyfriend) and I definitely still have normal couple arguments now and then, we work them out quickly and they rarely come up again. Seriously, I don’t want to boast but we’re total communicating machines! These are the tricks we’ve used to almost perfect our communication skills.
1. Bring Up Questions or Concerns Immediately
Have you ever been upset about something but didn’t say anything, only for you to bring it up months later over an issue completely unrelated? Yeah, I think we’ve all been there. I used to be the queen of saying “I’m fine” when I totally wasn’t. Sometimes that bad habit still sneaks in, but I’ve gotten better at catching myself over it. It’s important to remember that we’re not robots, and holding upset feelings in for long periods of time isn’t healthy. There’s enough stress in the world, you don’t need it in your relationship! Deal with things as they come up.
What If You Can’t Bring It Up Immediately?
Can’t bring it up right that second? Hey, don’t fret, I know there’s a time and a place! Here’s what you do:
- Acknowledge and process that something has upset you. It can be so helpful to identify the exact situation that triggered negative emotions and why. Were they intending to upset you? What are you going to do about it?
- Send it to the back of your mind for the time being. If you’re at a party with a group of friends or at a family gathering (or something along those lines), chances are you don’t want it to ruin your time. Put your thoughts about it on hold until you’re alone with your partner.
- When you are alone with them, bring it up in a calm manner. Phrase it in a way that highlights how their actions or words made you feel. Not in an accusing manner, but more so informative. If you end up getting emotional, know that it’s okay! It can be difficult to remove emotion from these situations. However, keep in mind that you want your conversation to be productive regardless of your emotional state. The goal is to solve the problem, not create new ones, so name calling and other pettiness should be avoided.
- Take (mental) note when you do come to an agreement about how you got there! What communication tactics worked well for you as a couple? What would you do differently next time?
Essentially you both need to commit to dealing with things as they come. It’s so much easier to process an event immediately afterwards than it is three months down the line. Remember that!
2. Remember that Honesty is the Best Policy
In line with communication being the key factor in a successful relationship, trust is a huge one that’s right up there with it. You can integrate trust into your communication strategy through honesty. And before we dig into this, know that I’m not talking about brutal honesty like telling them their hair is ugly or anything like that (especially if they’re like Mike and put a lot of effort into their hair – which by the way, I do love Mike’s hair lol). I’m talking about being open with where you are, what you’re up to, who you’re spending time with, telling them when something important happens, etc. Obviously you don’t need to dish every small detail, because we’re not going stalker level on either side here. But regularly openly communicating these things will give you both a sense of security in the relationship.If you're in the habit of checking your sig. other's text messages, your relationship isn't currently on the path to success. Let's work on fixing that together! Click To Tweet
Because let’s be real. We all have that one friend who feels the need to check their sig. other’s text messages. If that’s you, I’m not here to shame you. We all have reasons behind our actions, but I want to help you build a healthier (more honest) communication strategy so you and your partner have a better chance at making it work. Because if you’re checking their text messages, your relationship isn’t currently on the path to success. Let’s get it there! Honesty along with open communication on a regular basis will help you avoid trust issues and everything that goes along with that!
3. Avoid Bringing Up the Past
Have you ever been in an argument over one thing when someone brings up a past issue to use as ammunition? Yeah, if you’ve been on the receiving end, you know how unfair that is. And if you’re doing that, you need to stop. By bringing up past negative experiences, you’re only hurting your relationship.
When you go into a conversation with your partner about something that’s upset you, keep in mind that your goal is to solve the problem. Work with your partner, not against them. They are not your enemy, and it’s unfair (and actually kind of cruel) to bring up past issues that they probably think have been dealt with to use against them. That’s counterproductive and doesn’t help you move towards your goal. In fact, a great way to avoid this issue is tip #1, bringing things up immediately!When dealing with conflict in a relationship, the goal is to solve the problem. Work with your partner, not against them. They are not your enemy, they're you're partner! Click To Tweet
Remember These Main Points
So, next time you feel like bringing up a past issue in an argument, remember these things:
- Your significant other is your partner, not your enemy. You’re a team. You should be working together, not against each other.
- Remember what your goal is. You’re having this conversation because you care and you want to solve the problem rather than take the easy way out and just break it off. Stay productive in your process.
- Bringing something up that’s already been dealt with can be painful and is absolutely unfair to your partner. Doing so could potentially put your relationship at risk, especially if it’s a consistent occurrence. Nobody wants to be nitpicked about the past all the time.
4. Communicate the Positives Regularly
We’ve talked a lot about communication regarding conflicts in relationships. That being said, it doesn’t stop there! Yes girl, you can also openly communicate the positive thoughts and feelings you’re having in your relationship. In fact, it’s encouraged! Do it! Let me ask you a question. Have you ever felt insecure in how your partner feels about your relationship? Have you ever needed a little extra reassurance? Even if you don’t need it, positive reassurance can never hurt. I mean, I’m not saying to say “I love you” every five seconds, but communicating to your partner that you appreciate them on a regular basis is healthy for your relationship!By communicating positive thoughts and feelings, you're providing your partner with a sense of security. Communicating the positives opens up the communication airways in a relationship! Click To Tweet
By communicating those positive thoughts, you’re ensuring that your partner feels secure in the relationship. In turn, they’ll be more willing to openly communicate with you, both positive and constructive thoughts. Communicating the positives opens up the communication airways in a relationship because it’s the easiest form of communication, which is great for those just starting out!
But What Should You Say?
Are you stuck for ideas on what you might want to say to your partner to make their day? Girlfriend, I got you, don’t worry! Here are a few of my favourites (some of which are goofier than others but they all get the message across) to inspire you! And once you get the hang of it you’ll likely find that it’s easier to come up with thoughtful things to say than you think!
- “I always look forward to spending time with you.”
- “You’re my favourite person to spend time with.”
- “Can’t wait to SQUISH YOU.” It’s a hug, but squish is just so much more descriptive lol – also note that it should be said in a voice that sounds like you’re actually squishing something!
- “I love you with my whole heart.”
- “I love you with 90% of my heart, and the other 10% pumps the blood.” Let the records show that this is a real response that Mike gave me after I said the previous phrase to him lol.
- “You make my heart smile.”
- “Nice bum where ya from?”
- “I miss you when we’re apart.”
- “You’re my best friend.”
- “You’re pretty okay.” This one’s probably best for a couple who jokes around with each other a lot, use with someone who has a sense of humour!
When all else fails, you can always turn to RomComs or Disney movies for inspiration!
5. Keep Personal Conversations Between You Only
Does this seem like a no-brainer? For many of us, probably, but I’ve had more people share private details of their relationships to me over the years than I’d like to remember. I’ve seen more couples fighting in public than I can shove into my repressed memories. Disclosing those personal moments or information isn’t only uncomfortable for your relationship, but for everyone else involved. I don’t share even the tiniest of issues Mike and I run into with even my closest friends. In turn, I don’t ask my friends for information about their relationships that should be kept between the two of them. We maybe share generic exciting occurrences with each other, and it’s perfect!If you and your partner are going through something, the world doesn't need to know. Keep private moments between you to preserve both of your dignity and avoid inevitable complications with other parties getting involved. Click To Tweet
If you and your partner have a fight, the world doesn’t need to know. It’s inappropriate to be sharing it on Facebook or even telling your mom. Conflict should be resolved between the two of you not only to protect your reputations, but to avoid the complications that occur when multiple parties get involved. You absolutely have the capacity to deal with things yourselves. If you aren’t able to work it out yourselves, then there’s no shame in going to therapy together to have a therapist mediate the conversation. Please have respect for the dignity of yourself and your partner and keep private moments private.
The bottom line is that strong communication skills are essential to a healthy relationship. That being said, communication needs to come from both sides. You can implement all of these tactics, but your partner needs to implement them too in order for it to actually work. Believe me when I say that the process is not always going to be easy, and building a foundation for solid communication is going to take work. There’s no easy way around it. However, I think you’ll find that once that foundation is built your entire relationship will be so much easier and less stressful. And isn’t that what everyone wants? There’s enough stress in the world. If you can remove stress from your relationship as much as possible, then why wouldn’t you?
What are your thoughts on open communication in relationships? Do you have any advice to add? Share your answers in the comments below!
For more great articles like this one, check these out:
- How I Survived an Emotionally Abusive Relationship
- Date Night Ideas for Millennials on a Budget
- 24 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 24 Years
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