Improving Communication

If you look at many of the problems that arise in your relationship you may see a common pattern - they aren't about that particular issue at all but something much deeper - communication.

Arguments, disagreements and differences of opinion often boil down to the fact that we struggle to communicate well. We find it hard to put our own points across in an articulate, non emotional way and we forget to listen. The most basic communication can breakdown during difficult periods - look at your own relationship - do you take the time to talk and listen to your partner every day? Is it about something more meaningful than what you are going to buy at the supermarket that evening?

But how do you start to improve your communication?

  • Remember that men and women are different and have different approaches to communication - most women find it much easier than men to be emotionally open and honest. Give men the time and space to develop a more open way of communicating
  • Don't try and communicate at times when one party is distracted, for example when the football is on or when you are trying to put the kids to bed
  • Find times and places that are comfortable and as peaceful as possible
  • Listen to your partner and give them your full attention
  • Physical closeness is important, sit next to each other and touch if possible
  • Look for non verbal signs that your partner is upset or uncomfortable such as crossing their arms (defensive)
  • Don't rush - leave enough time for everyone to have their say.
  • Getting started can be difficult so try asking open ended questions. These are usually questions that require more than a one word response - usually with some explanation. For example if you say 'Did you have a good day at work today' the answer could easily be 'yes' or 'no'. If you say 'What went well at work today?' it encourages more of a dialogue and allows you to ask more follow on questions.
  • Remember in any discussion there are two points of view and yours may not be the only correct one.
  • Bear in mind that for good communication to become a part of your relationship you need it to be enjoyable and/or productive - don't think you have to put the world to rights in one evening - chat about the things you enjoy doing together and grow towards emotionally deeper topics.

Keeping a relationship alive and happy means learning to communicate well. If you need more help in learning communication skills then you can find local counsellors who will be able to help you.