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Love & Communication in Relationships

Communication is Key

Much of what we see and hear pertains to love these days. What many solely seek for in life is love. Yet, what happens when it is found? The idea is to keep it alive, but how? For this, communication is the key.

The way couples communicate with one another can be a reflection of their personalities, age, backgrounds, and lifestyles. In order to maintain a relationship, couples must be willing to exchange information about themselves and capable of feeling confident, honest, direct, and clear when discussing realities about their past, present, and future.

Types of Communication

The main types of communication are nonverbal and verbal. Nonverbal communication refers to any communication that occurs without the use of words to convey meaning such as the employment of body language, gestures, or facial expressions.

Verbal communication (our primary mode of communication) utilizes the tools of speech and writing. Despite the type of communication mode used, relationships that lack effective communication tend to fail.

How to Communicate with Your Partner

One of the most important aspects of communication is how you communicate with your partner. In order to converse effectively with your significant other, there are certain things one can try.

To begin, try talking about yourself and your feelings. Express both positive and negative feelings about how you feel about yourself, your partner, or anything concerning the relationship. It sometimes takes courage to tell someone how you feel, but in the end it can really make you feel better and strengthen the relationship.

Next, express your needs and wants on a daily basis. Remember that your partner is not a mind-reader. It is difficult to cooperate, compromise, or meet another person’s expectations when you have no idea how they feel about certain things. Third, use direct expression rather than indirect expression such as, “I'm angry,” or “I feel rejected” instead of, “you make me angry,” or “you reject me.” This can help to avoid conflict because you aren’t specifically targeting the other person, but you are still getting your point across.

Lastly, be a good listener. Your partner will feel more connected to you if he/she senses that you are interested in them and what they have to say.

Barriers to Communication

Some relationship problems can be caused by miscommunication or misunderstandings in a conversation. Miscommunication may take place when couples do not clearly convey something to their partner. For instance, a person may communicate certain messages with words, but their body language says something else. An example of this would be a partner who says “I love you” to their partner with their arms crossed and an angry look on their face.  Their words do not match their body language, indicating that they don’t really mean what they are saying.  

Misunderstandings are most visible in relationships where one partner assumes that the other partner already knows something, or should know something. Assuming that one's partner should already know everything brings about conflict and confusion. This can often lead to frustration and hostility, which can ruin future communication between the couple. Even the most simple of conversations can become a forum for competitiveness, power struggle and mutual depreciation, so it is important to stay calm in order to communicate effectively. 

How to effectively communicate:

  • Be direct - Get your full point across, leaving no room for interpretation
  • Be assertive - Don’t be afraid to share your true thoughts
  • Be congenial - Don’t be angry, try to stay calm and understanding
  • Be clear - You may think the other person understands, but they might not
  • Be open - Discuss everything you have been meaning to express
  • Be verbal - Use words to accurately express your concerns 
  • Keep both partners involved - Each person needs to be involved, it can’t just be a one way conversation
  • Listen - Let your partner know that you are listening to their needs
  • Stay On Track with what they are saying – Don’t try to direct the conversation elsewhere until you have addressed each topic
  • Be honest - Express your true thoughts and feelings even if they may hurt the other person

What not to do…Ineffective Communication:

  • Don’t be indirect - Don’t beat around the bush
  • Don’t be passive - Avoid being timid and reserved
  • Don’t be antagonistic - Don’t speak from a place of anger or hostility
  • Don’t be cryptic - Don’t leave room for interpretation
  • Don’t be hidden - You need to put everything out on the table
  • Don’t be non-verbal - Non verbal communication can send the wrong message/impression
  • It’s not a one way street - Make sure to give each other equal sharing time
  • Don’t be unresponsive - Don’t act uninterested, they need to know you want to be there for them and are willing to hear them out
  • Don’t go off base- Stay on topic with what you intended to discuss
  • Don’t be dishonest- Don’t hide your true feelings, this will only make things worse

The main thing to take from this article is that communication is important and requires practice.  Work on communicating effectively with your partner each day in order to enhance your relationship and communication skills.

References

  • Beck, A.T. (1988). Love is Never Enough. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers.
  • Becvar, R.J. (1974). Skills for Effective Communication: A Guide to Building Relationships . John Wiley & Sons.
  • Bertholf, S.D. (1999). What every College Age Women Should Know about Relationships . Abbey House Books.
  • Kuriansky, J. (2002). The Complete Idiot's Guide to A Healthy Relationship. Indianapolis, IN.
  • Wiggins, J et. al. (1994). Social Psychology . U.S.: McGraw-Hill.