Communication problems in relationships are common. I took a poll two years ago with couples and the majority of them said lack of communication or unclear communication was the main issue in their relationship. If the communication is not clear and available when needed, other parts of the relationship will suffer. It is part of my pleasure and obligation to offer couples and singles advice and tips that will allow them to communicate more effectively. Below are 5 suggestions that if implemented will immediately bear positive results.
Pray Before You Say!
Not only does every blessing we have in our lives come from God, but He loves that we complain to Him about the trials and tribulations we go through in our lives. Intimate relationships are definitely included in this equation. Think about it this way, the person we are in a marriage or relationship with is the closes person to us.
We should ask God to help us be effective and productive in our communication with this person. Sometimes, we fail to understand the importance of our connection with God in every area of our lives. The better our relationship with Him is, the better we will relate to other human beings. With that in mind, we should speak to Him before we speak to our significant other about intimate heart matters. As the tradition states, “If you ask, ask God. If you seek help, seek help from God.”
Some couples who have been together for a long time begin to think they know what their partner is thinking in any and every situation. This can lead to further friction and misunderstandings. The better approach is, even if you think you know, ask open-ended questions and listen attentively to his or her reply. It is also helpful to repeat what was said back to them. For example, “You would like so and so…” This accomplishes two things. One, if there was some misunderstanding of what was said, it gives your partner a chance to explain. Two, it lets your partner know you were paying attention.
Don’t Play The Blame Game!
I read an excellent phrase the other day, that states, “Healthy Relationships… Let’s remember! It’s Me and You vs. The Problems. Not You vs. Me.” When one of you has a problem, the relationship has a problem. You must keep in mind that you’re a team. Mind you, each of you has strengths the other one doesn’t have, which should add more power to an already powerful union. Always look at yourselves as a team, especially during times of relationship discord.
In other words, you win and lose as a team. You address the issues that are causing the problems, not each other. What does that mean? Observe the difference between these two statements. “You really need to stop doing that.” Or, “I really don’t like when you do that.” Which one would land better with your partner? One indicates blame, while the other is just your partner expressing his or her feelings. Not participating in the ‘blame game’ will allow you to work things out in a more constructive manner. It doesn’t mean that some conversations won’t be hard. It just ensures that you don’t make them harder than they should be.
Stick To The Facts!
When trying to talk over problems in relationships, don’t bring up anything you can’t prove. Instead, stay with what can’t be argued like your own feelings and what your partner already agrees they do. For example, saying, “I was embarrassed when you told Dave you don’t think I should ask for a raise.” Your feelings can’t be argued unless your partner is just being argumentative. You felt embarrassed. So, deal with the facts. At the same time, be careful about how you state the facts.
In many cases, it’s not what was said, but how it was said. In other words, even when it’s true, be kind when you state that truth. Remember this tradition, “Kindness has never been added to a thing except it made it better.” You should try your best to avoid harshness even when being truthful. Harshness can make things fester and they can eventually reach the point where they’ll never heal. Instead, speak your mind when you have a problem, but do so with gentleness, kindness, and respect.
Be Like A Friend And Lover… Not Like A Coach!
Chances are, your partner isn’t with you because they’re hoping you can correct all their bad habits and personality flaws. You’re not their parent, teacher, coach, or boss. You’re their friend and lover.
You may think you’re giving constructive criticism, but your partner might think your love or respect for them has diminished because of this one little flaw they have. Instead of criticizing, encourage improvement by giving your partner some positive feedback when they do something you really like. Just know and understand, it’s about you and your partner growing together not apart. The only way to accomplish relationship growth is with clear and effective communication.
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