Good communication is key to a healthy relationship. It’s the glue that holds the pieces together, the oil that keeps the engine running. But here’s the thing: many of us in today’s culture don’t know what good communication looks like, let alone how to use it. Good communication, and consequently healthy relationships, aren’t necessarily modeled for us as children and aren’t taught to us in school, either. Sure, we learn the basic biological functions of sex, but what about intimacy, friendship, and how to use communication as a building block for a relationship?
Let’s take a minute to examine what good communication looks like because it’s certainly more than simply talking. Good communication is the ability to express one’s thoughts, feelings, and ideas to another person, and the ability to receive the thoughts, feelings, and ideas of another without judgment. Good communication consists of both the small, everyday moments and the large, difficult conversations. Good communication requires vulnerability, patience, and commitment, but when it exists in a relationship, both partners will feel seen, heard, respected, and appreciated. And that, dear friends, is worth working for.
At the Relationship Therapy Center, we value healthy, happy relationships and we know that they don’t exist without good communication. So, to help you and your partner communicate more successfully in your relationship, here are Five Ways to Communicate to Keep Your Relationship Healthy.
Learn to listen (and listen to learn). Many people only half-listen when their significant other is talking, or they listen with one eye on their phone, or with the expectation that they already know what the other is going to say. But good listening requires presence and empathy. It requires listening to the words your partner is saying, and also to their body language and emotion. Think for a moment about how good it feels to really be heard, and then practice giving that feeling to your partner.
Stop expecting your partner to read your mind. And stop trying to read theirs. Learn to tell your partner exactly what you want from them, whether it’s advice or simply a shoulder to cry on. You can’t expect them to meet your needs if you don’t express what they are. And vice versa. Instead of assuming you already know what your partner is thinking, ask them. Clear communication in a relationship lowers stress and increases satisfaction. It’s a win-win.
Let go of the need to be right. Decide that cultivating a culture of safety and support is more important than being right and then watch your relationship transform. You don’t always have to agree, but you do need to learn to see things from one another’s point of view and admit when you’re wrong.
Keep things equal. In a relationship, both partners are important and should be getting about the same amount of time and attention in conversations. Monitor your own air time and make an effort to make your partner feel seen and heard when it’s their turn to talk. Chances are, the more respected they feel, the more they will be able to (and want to) return the favor.
Talk about the small things. Not every conversation has to be monumental. In fact, this could make the relationship feel heavy and deter one or both partners from wanting to communicate. You’re in this relationship because you enjoy each other’s company, right? So, don’t forget to share the small moments, silly moments, and everyday moments. It’s ok to lighten up sometimes.
As you can see, the benefits of good communication in relationships are enormous! And although good communication and healthy relationships are attainable for everybody, some couples may require guidance and support. At The Relationship Therapy Center, we offer both individual and couples counseling sessions because we believe that although healthy communication takes practice, it is absolutely worth working for. Click here to learn more.
Other Services offered at The Relationship Therapy Center in California:
In addition to relationship therapy, Our Sacramento area counseling clinics located in Roseville and Fair Oaks, CA are pleased to offer a variety of mental health services. We will discuss the importance of self-care and emotional support to help you cope with relationship struggles and to discover ways to find healthy ways of dealing with stress.
Eating Disorder therapy can be beneficial, with the right therapist. Our compassionate therapists are trained to walk you through the process and help you find healing and peace. Please contact our therapy office to learn more about the many ways we can help you and your loved ones heal, grow, and love healthy.