Communicating with your partner

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One of the biggest challenges couples can face is often what can make the most significant difference to their relationship: effective communication.

Effective communication happens when both partners can clearly and simply describe their feelings, thoughts and wishes to each other,  listen to each other, and feel understood by the other. Effective communication does not happen when one partner gets their own way by the other either resentfully complying, or agreeing to avoid conflict or feeling vulnerable.

Learning how to communicate effectivley as a couple can be challenging but well worth the effort as it can make a tremendous difference to the quality of your relationship.

Tips for effective communication

  • Focus on describing your feelings, thoughts and wishes clearly and simply to your partner rather than making a case for getting your way or blaming/shaming them.
  • Try to observe what you partner is feeling as well as what they are saying. Look for clues in their facial expression, tone of voice, and body language to what they might be feeling.
  • Acknowledging your partners thoughts, feelings and wishes will help them to feel heard. Acknowledging need not mean that you agree with what you partner is saying, but does demonstrate to them that they are important enough to you to want to hear what they are saying and feeling.
  • Look at your partner when they are speaking to you.
  • When explaining your thoughts, feelings and wishes try to use the word “I” rather than the word “you”. People tend to hear the word “you” as an accusation. For example  “You are not listening to me” can feel like an accusation compared to “I don't feel heard ” where the speaker focuses on what they are feeling rather than what their partner is or isn't doing.
  • Try as much as possible to explain your feelings, thoughts and wishes as simply as possible, you can ask you partner if they need more detail.
  • Ask questions to learn and understand more about what your partner is saying and feeling rather than assuming you know.
  • Notice your partner’s reaction as feedback to what you are saying. Sometimes what you intended to communicate is not what your partner has heard. You need to check this out with them.
  • Ask your partner for feedback on what helps them to feel heard and appreciated by you, and vice versa.
  • If you are finding a conversation difficult or upsetting let your partner know.

Learning how to effectively communicate as a couple

Dilemmas, tensions, misunderstandings and disappointments are part of any successful couple relationship as two people try to navigate and negotiate competing needs, hopes and wishes. Effective communication can make a real difference to whether those dilemmas, tensions, misunderstandings and disappointments create distance and resentment, or opportunties for growth and more fulfillment as individuals and for your couple relationship.

Couples counselling can provide an excellent opportunity to learn skills in effective communication alongside working through the specific dilemma/s that you are seeking couples counselling for.

"We just can't seem to communicate" is one of the most common reasons couples seek counselling.  I can support and guide you both in developing effective communication skills equipping your relationship to face the ongoing changes and challenges that life inevitably brings to any couple.

Having the skills to express your thoughts, feelings and wishes to each other especially when these are confusing, upsetting or difficult to say is often the foundation for a fulfilling and satisfying couple relationship