Are You Communicating All Wrong in Your Relationship?

We’ve all been there: you’re so hurt and angry with your partner, you just want to let loose at them with every furious thought in your head. Maybe you want to use your words to hurt them, and make them feel the pain that you’re feeling.

But, experts agree, this is a very bad idea. While conflict in relationships is normal, and in some cases even healthy, resorting to hurtful communication is not.

Communication is the most important part of any relationship. While miscommunication and misunderstandings will naturally happen, most arguments and issues can be avoided with healthy, effective communication.

Here are some tips that you can follow to improve communication in your relationship.

Choose the right time and place for communication. Don’t bring up a difficult topic while you’re at a party, for example. And never talk about your issues over text or email, because you can’t hear the person’s tone, and there is too much opportunity to misunderstand each other.

Turn off any technology, and give your partner your full attention when they want to talk about something. Show them you’re listening by facing your body towards them and making eye contact.

Express to your partner how you are feeling by using an ‘I message’. An ‘I message’ lets you own your feelings, and takes the blame and pressure off of your partner. For example, “I feel hurt when you don’t spend time with me” is an ‘I message’, while “You hurt me when you don’t spend time with me” is not. See the difference?

Once you’ve had a chance to express how you’re feeling, invite your partner to do the same. Don’t interrupt them, even if you disagree with what they’re saying. After they’re finished, reflect back to them what you think that they’re saying. This helps you to make sure you understand them, and makes them feel heard. For example, “If I am understanding you correctly, you feel that I am being selfish at the moment.”

Be honest, but not hurtful. Don’t blame your partner for your feelings, or your unhappiness. It’s not your job to make your partner happy, and vice versa. Needing your partner to act a certain way in order for you to feel happy is unreasonable and unhealthy.

After you’ve both laid your feelings onto the table, and have both been heard, look to resolve your issues through compromise. Don’t seek to ‘win’ the argument, but rather to find a solution and a way forward that you are both happy with.

Following these guidelines should drastically improve the communication, not only in your romantic relationship, but in all the relationships in your life.

Remember: to communicate how you’re feeling to your partner, you first need to be able to identify what you’re feeling, and why. Spend some time working on self-awareness, too.