Have you noticed lately that you are struggling to communicate with your partner? If you are finding it harder to talk about important problems or even the everyday struggles, you are not alone.
Good communication is the foundation of every relationship, yet, we sometimes struggle to have even basic conversations.
Since we love and care about our partner, talking to them about anything should be easy, right? Unfortunately, it isn’t always that simple.
If you have noticed that your communication is lacking, you have already identified the problem. This is an important first step!
Now, you and your partner can work together to improve over time.
Mastering Communication Skills
Learning to communicate well takes time. Many of us are not born being strong communicators or effective listeners—these skills take practice to develop.
There is no overnight fix if you and your partner are struggling to communicate. To improve the communication within your relationship, you will both need to put in the effort and the time.
Here are several tips to help you and your partner learn to master the art of effective communication:
Designate a Place
While you are learning or re-learning great communication skills, you will need to consider your environment. Some places simply are not conducive to having a meaningful conversation—crowded malls, loud restaurants, and even in some areas of your home.
For the best chance at success, designate an appropriate place to have conversations with your partner. This could be during a walk around the neighborhood, at the kitchen table, or in the car during a long drive. By making the location of your conversations intentional, you and your partner will be able to communicate more effectively.
Designate a Time
Just as the location of your conversations is crucial, so is the timing. For successful communication, you and your partner need to consider the best times of day for your conversations.
Set aside a time that works for both of you, making sure to factor in personality preferences, as well. Are you an early bird while your partner is a night owl? Do you love to chat during mealtimes, but your partner would rather relax quietly? If the two of you are struggling to connect, designate a specific window of time to talk—and stick to it, even when your schedules change.
Listen More Than You Talk
For most of us, talking comes naturally. It’s usually the listening side of conversation that needs some work.
To be a successful communicator, you must learn to listen more than you talk. Make your partner feel heard and understood by giving them plenty of time to speak without fear of interruption. Rather than focusing on how you are going to respond, redirect your attention to what your partner has to say and make an effort to truly hear every word.
Focus on the Face-to-Face
In our digital world, it can be tempting to rely on text messages for many of our conversations. The truth is, however, that typed messages can be misinterpreted—not to mention that they remove body language and non-verbal cues from the equation.
Keep all important conversations strictly in-person. And avoid relying too heavily on your digital devices to communicate with your partner.
Considering Couples Counseling
If you and your partner have been actively working on your communication skills for a few months and are not seeing much progress, you may benefit from professional guidance.
Couples counselors, for example, are trained to help couples communicate more effectively. Additionally, therapy provides a safe space where you feel more comfortable discussing your feelings and asking for help.
Jim Duncan, MA, LPC Intern, works with couples in all stages of their relationship at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. If you and your partner find yourselves lacking tools to effectively discuss anything from big problems to small everyday struggles, we can help. To schedule an appointment with Jim, give him a call at (512) 270-4883, ext. 117, or request an appointment with him online through the RCC Austin Scheduling page. We hope to hear from you.