Couple on sofa

Is your relationship stuck in a rut because of issues you are ignoring? It doesn’t have to be this way. By learning to communicate better with your partner, you can address issues before they become problems and provide needed emotional reassurance. 

Even couples who get along well are bound to face occasional difficulties in the relationship, and effective communication strategies help navigate those challenges. Read on to learn how to foster healthy communication in your relationship.

  1. Carve out time for your partner

The stresses of daily life can take a toll on communication. Sometimes when we encounter conflict, it is tempting to push the problem aside rather than sort through the issue with our partner. And when we are overwhelmed, we may check out mentally by watching TV or scrolling through the internet, but when we do this, we miss valuable opportunities to connect with our partners more deeply and meaningfully.

  1. Ask open-ended questions when discussing important matters 

According to relationship psychologist Dr. John Gottman, asking closed-ended questions that require only a yes or no answer can kill a conversation. If you want to strengthen your communications, try instead to ask your partner questions that seek a thorough answer; this allows them to feel heard. For example, when your partner tells you that something is bothering them, ask them things like: “What emotions are coming up for you when we talk about this?” or “What made you upset?,” rather than simply “Are you in a bad mood?”

  1. Pay attention to body language

Body language is vital for communicating your intentions and understanding what someone else is feeling. If you fold your arms when someone else is talking to you, it can send a message that you are uninterested or closed off to them. You don’t want to do this to your partner regularly, or your communications could suffer.

When your partner is speaking, put your phone away, look them in the eye, and turn towards them. This will improve your communication with your partner and show them you care about what they are saying.

  1. Respond to your partner’s bids for connection

When your partner seeks out affection, attention, or affirmation from you, they are making a bid for connection. It doesn’t always happen when you’re expecting it, or at a convenient time. Yet you must pay attention and try to be sensitive to your partner’s bids for connection.

When your partner asks you for your help with something, invites you to talk, or even just tries to be affectionate with you, don’t ignore them. Turning towards these bids for connection when they occur helps you become better attuned to your partner’s needs and will improve emotional intimacy. It may be as simple as really listening to them when they speak.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need

Good communication works both ways. You must learn to be attentive to your partner’s needs, which may differ from yours. If you are not sure what they need, ask them directly. But equally important, try to help your partner understand your own needs, too. That means being honest with yourself and having the courage to be honest with your partner about your needs.

The bottom line:

Difficulties with communication between partners can develop over time. However, you can improve your relationship by making a regular effort to be present with your partner. In doing so, you will improve your chances of having a healthy, lasting relationship.

We are a San Diego counseling practice specializing in couples counseling for couples and individuals who have lost their way. Our therapists are trained in the Gottman Method, Emotion Focused Therapy, EMDR, and Brainspotting. We are an LGBTQ+ affirming practice. Get to the heart of the matter and connect with the right therapist for you today. To request an appointment, please feel free to callemail, or submit the form.

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