Romantic relationships take work. Effective communication can help make sure that your relationship stays healthy and strong. Communication helps you and your partner be on the same page regarding things like expectations, desires, and future goals. Learning the difference between healthy and unhealthy communication can help you avoid conflict and maintain boundaries.
Clear, straightforward communication can be helpful in many aspects of life, including at work, school, or with friends. When it comes to romantic relationships, open communication usually involves a deeper level of intimacy. This added vulnerability can make communication in romantic relationships harder than in other situations.
Even though it may be more difficult, knowing how to communicate clearly and compassionately with your partner can help you build a strong foundation for your relationship. When you practice healthy communication in lighthearted or simple situations, you can know how to cope with more serious issues that might arise.
Healthy communication takes two willing partners. If your partner refuses to learn how to communicate even after learning the difference between healthy and unhealthy communication, then no amount of healthy communication techniques on your end may be enough to solve problems together.
Unhealthy relationships might have communication that is chaotic, unpredictable, and abusive. This type of communication might involve:
An angry tone
Yelling or screaming
Not listening to what you are actually saying
Becoming incredibly defensive
Ignoring you or giving you the cold shoulder
Throwing or breaking things
Insults and threats
When a relationship has unhealthy communication habits, it can be difficult for you and your partner to ever actually solve issues. You might find that you bring up specific problems repeatedly, but nothing ever really changes. You might also find that you have trouble accepting your partner's thoughts and feedback, leading to a defensiveness that doesn't allow you to hear what they are trying to tell you.
Unhealthy communication can range from being toxic to abusive. If even “simple” conversations in your relationship involve verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, learning to communicate more healthily may not eliminate the abuse. On the other hand, if you or your partner have trouble communicating healthily, you can learn how to avoid unhealthy communication habits in your relationship.
Kind, compassionate, and fair communication can help strengthen your relationship. Unlike unhealthy communication, healthy communication involves respect on both sides, a lot of listening and understanding, and careful thought and consideration in the words that are spoken.
Healthy communication takes practice, time, and patience from both partners. If you are both willing to work toward healthier communication, you will need to be understanding with each other as you learn to shed old, unhealthy habits and work toward a better relationship. Some healthier ways to communicate in relationships include:
Use "I" sentences:
Using “you” sentences such as “You forgot our anniversary" could feel accusatory and make your partner defensive. Instead, using “I” sentences can help focus the attention back onto you and your feelings. For example, you may say, "I feel neglected and unloved when you forgot our anniversary."
Take time to formulate your thoughts:
Sometimes, a minor issue can trigger a larger argument in relationships. Taking time to focus on exactly what you are feeling and what you want to say can help you confront the larger problem head-on instead of prolonging the conflict by dealing with the smaller issue.
Be aware of your tone, body language, and expressions:
How we say things can be just as important as what we are saying. Practice communicating with softer, gentler tones. Try to make your body language open instead of closed off as you speak.
Validate your partner:
Even if you might not immediately agree with your partner's thoughts or feelings, taking time to validate your partner can help them know you understand where they are coming from and that you are willing to work towards a compromise.
Talk about communication:
Your partner may communicate differently than you do. Understanding your communication styles and working together to shift techniques when needed can help you and your partner learn how to approach conversations with their feelings in mind.
Have respect for your partner:
Maintaining respect for your partner can help strengthen your overall relationship even if you disagree on things. Respecting your partner as a person can help you avoid resorting to belittling terms, insults, and name-calling.
Don't interrupt your partner:
Allow your partner to speak without interrupting them, and make sure they do the same for you.
Set aside time to talk without distractions:
It might seem over-the-top to schedule a time to communicate, but it may be worth it considering how vital communication is to maintaining a healthy relationship. Take time to converse your feelings without external distractions.
There are many things that you can do to improve how you and your partner communicate. Practicing healthy communication can help strengthen your relationship and bring greater relationship satisfaction for both of you.
Communication can be difficult. It can be even more challenging in romantic relationships where intimacy and emotional vulnerability are involved. If your relationship involves unhealthy communication habits, you can work together to learn how to communicate healthily. Doing so might take practice and patience on both sides of your relationship, but the results can be worth the work. If you are having trouble knowing how to communicate healthily in your relationship, SokyaHealth can help. Our therapists have expertise in dealing with complex relationship issues and relationship guidance, teaching you how to shed unhealthy communication habits and work toward healthier, compassionate, respectful communication. At SokyaHealth, we offer you a safe place for you to talk about your relationship problems without judgment or punishment. We can provide you with healthy, productive solutions as you work toward better communication habits in your relationship. Call SokyaHealth today at (877) 840-6956 for more information about our services.