It won’t be shocking to many couples that the pandemic caused a spike in breakups and divorces. Lockdowns meant couples were spending more time together than usual. They could no longer avoid their communication issues and had no other option but to part ways.
Both of you being able to express yourself in an open and non-judgmental way is essential to a healthy relationship. But not everyone has the tools and knowledge to do this.
Lucky for you and your partner, it is something that you can learn and improve with practice. Read on for relationship tips that will help you figure out how to communicate your needs. Then, you will be able to understand and support each other much better.
Choose an Appropriate Time to Talk
If you have a family or a hectic schedule, then there is never a “perfect” time to talk about deeper issues. But there are better times.
In fact, there are two. The first is when you are both alone together with nothing on your calendar. The second is in the moment.
When you are eating dinner alone or on the couch watching TV is the perfect time to bring up larger concerns. These are concerns like feeling unsupported in your relationship and living arrangements. You will never get the serious discussion you want when your partner is halfway out of the door.
But it’s better to communicate your needs within the moment when it’s a smaller issue. Let’s say you’re out for dinner with your partner and they are spending way too long looking at their phone.
It’s much better to express this at the time rather than telling them later on or in a few days. If you do, you can redeem the dinner, but if you don’t, you will resent them. And you wouldn’t be giving them the opportunity to correct their behavior, which they may also resent.
Use “I” and “You” in the Right Way
One of the best communication relationship tips anyone could give you is to change how you use “I” and “you” when expressing your needs.
These are some examples of incorrect ways to use “you” in conversations about your relationship:
- You always make me out to be the bad guy
- You’re a slob and I always have to clean up after you
- You’re always spending all our money and I earn most of it
In these statements, the person is taking no responsibility for their feelings. Instead, they are blaming and accusing their partner of sweeping behaviors. And they aren’t backing up their claims with evidence.
These statements are not productive. They will provoke anger and make the partner feel defensive.
Use “I” statements instead. For example:
- I feel hurt when you talk down and belittle me in front of your friends
- I feel deflated and unappreciated when I see tons of dirty dishes in the sink because I feel like I do my share of the housework
- I feel anxious when I see money leave our joint account because we’re saving for a house and we don’t earn a lot
You are getting right to the core of the issue with “I” statements. This is something you can practice with a relationship coach if you ever decide to get one.
Tell Them Exactly What You Need
There’s no relationship advice that’s more direct than this. Tell your partner exactly what you need. No ifs, and, or buts.
You want to try something new in the bedroom but you’re not sure if they will be into it? Ask them.
You hate your job and want to go back to school but you’re not sure what it will mean for your household finances? Discuss it with them.
You’re unhappy with them going out drinking every night after work with their friends while you are at home with the children? Tell them!
Not expressing something that is important to you will lead to resentment and it won’t go away. And if your partner is not willing to listen to you, you may want to consider relationship coaching.
Consider Non-Verbal Cues (But Don’t Rely on Them)
Many people didn’t grow up in a household that shared their feelings. They learned to bottle up emotions so they don’t appear weak. If you or your partner have had experiences like this, you may need relationship life coaching to make serious breakthroughs.
But this is why paying attention to non-verbal cues in your relationship is important. If your partner is out of their routine, not sleeping, not eating, or is quieter than normal, then there may be something wrong. Be gentle and try to get them to open up in their own time.
But neither you nor your partner is a mind reader. It’s exhausting to pick up on non-verbal cues all the time, and they often lead to misunderstandings.
You might think your partner is spending less time with you because they don’t love you anymore. But in reality, they’re busy at work and it’s demanding more of their time.
Learn to be direct. Then, when your partner is exhibiting the same behaviors in the future, you’ll know not to panic.
Prepare To Listen to Your Partner Too
Communication is a two-way street. If you want to express your needs to your partner more, you need to prepare to listen to them too.
Don’t predict their needs before they say them, and don’t prepare your response while they are still talking. Ask open-ended questions to get to the heart of the matter. Talk to them in the way you wish they would talk to you when you’re communicating something difficult.
Relationship Tips for Better Communication
There’s no magic formula you can apply to every relationship to improve communication. But being willing to work at it and use these relationship tips is a good first step. You will both no doubt start expressing yourself better and find your relationship getting better as a result.
There’s no shame in needing more help to strengthen your relationship. Mend the Bond is a free relationship advice service offering tons of useful relationship tips and guides. Find out more about us and sign up to get our free marriage repair handbook!