Understanding The Importance Of Communication In Relationships
Healthy relationships often thrive on reciprocal, open, and honest communication. Even in romantic partnerships where you love someone deeply, though, you might still have difficulty talking about your feelings. Using words to communicate can be tough for many people, but it’s not the only way to engage in communication. According to Dr. Michele Kerulis, a professor of Counseling at Northwestern University, what effective communication does is give us a space to express our wants and needs and provide opportunities to grow in love, romance, sexuality, and even conflict resolution. Both parties in a relationship should be able to speak and be heard and finding that balance can be the crucial element for healthy communication. For this reason, learning to communicate with your partner can be essential for the preservation of your relationship. To help you understand more about why communication can be so important, explore the following elements of communication within this article and learn how you can implement them into your own life.
Tips For Effective Communication In Your Relationship
Effective communication doesn’t always happen naturally. In many cases, it takes effort, patience, and accountability from both partners to create it. Consider the tips below to incorporate more a productive communication style into your relationship.
Talk About Your Day
To get communication flowing, start by talking about your day with your partner. This can be a useful first step for couples who are having a difficult time learning how to communicate. Instead of jumping right into feelings, talking about your day can be a simpler alternative. When you can, try to spend time together and continually get to know one another. You can attend different local events, take each other out to lunch, see a fun movie, or whatever else seems like something you two would enjoy. Creating memories together can be a gateway to more conversation.
Since communication goes both ways, asking questions can be an effective way to keep the conversation flowing without risking one person doing all the talking. A quick Google search can show you many lists of questions for deeper intimacy or how to get to know your partner better. You can take turns asking each other those questions, or you can come up with your own. Think about what makes you curious about your partner. What do they talk about that you love to listen to? You may have a tougher time monopolizing the conversation when you are genuinely interested in what your partner has to say.
To go back to the first point, even asking your partner something like, “How was your day?” can be an acceptable way to open a dialogue with them. After a day spent apart, taking some time to fill one other in on what you each did can help you feel closer and give you something to talk about. If neither of you had an interesting day or you don’t know how to talk about your day, try moving on to other questions.
Practice Being An Active Listener
There is a big difference between hearing and actively listening. When communicating, it can be crucial to pay attention to what your partner says just as much as you are intentionally speaking. Letting what your partner says go in one ear and out the other refers to hearing, but not active listening. It can help your conversations flow more easily by giving your partner your undivided attention, using your body language to show you not only hear but understand what they are saying. Try to face them head-on, nod your head, make eye contact, and other such things that convey they have your full attention. You can even try repeating back to them what they are saying, which can also be a helpful skill to use if you want to clarify something.
Allow Yourselves To Just Be
The conversation may not always flow easily between you and your partner. Once you get to know each other well, silence can become routine; however, rather than being a negative thing, silence can actually serve the purpose of allowing you to connect with your partner more effectively. Sitting in silence together can be similarly powerful as a deep conversation, depending on the circumstances. Your ability to remain comfortable in long blocks of silence when you’re watching TV, listening to music, eating dinner, or watching the sunset can show how close you are as a couple. You don’t have to fill in the silence with words. Small talk has its place, but it’s not always needed. Consider acknowledging how comfortable you are in the silence, which can be a form of communication in and of itself.
Be Mindful Of Your Relationship
If you know you struggle with communication in your relationship, you may already be halfway to a solution. Being mindful of your weaknesses and relationship needs can be the first step toward fixing any issues you have. It can also be important that you understand why you want to make a change in the first place. Making intentional changes to be a more effective communicator can lead to more positive outcomes in your relationship.
Do you want to feel closer to your partner? Do you feel like you aren’t able to tell your partner things that they should probably know? Are they great at communicating, and you feel sort of left behind? All of these could be reasons to work on your communication skills. Once you know why you want to change something, you can begin thinking about what you can intentionally do to create that change.
Try To Be Flexible
When you get into arguments or disagreements, it can be important to remember to be as flexible as possible while still being true to yourself. Keeping rigid opinions (apart from dealbreakers) or thinking that your partner is incapable of change may only hurt you both when you can’t come to a resolution. When you have open communication and are willing to dig into your feelings and issues, a change in your relationship can happen. This positive shift in your relationship could cause each partner to be more open with the other, even if it wasn’t second nature for either of them to begin with. Creating more positive moments with your partner can also help you come to a solution when a disagreement does occur. Remember that no one ever sees eye to eye all the time; that doesn’t mean you can’t compromise and still have a healthy, satisfying relationship.
Communication, whether verbal or otherwise, isn’t always an inherent skill. It’s something that anyone can work on if they desire to grow in this area. This often means putting it into practice in all your relationships. When you can practice these skills with others in your life, you can strengthen your ability to do it in a relationship. Practice makes better, not perfect, so give yourself the space to make mistakes and grow from them.
Communication can be a team effort, but that doesn’t mean you will always be on the same page. One of you may be ahead of the other emotionally, but you can still work together to be on the same page eventually.
Online Counseling With ReGain
Communication can either drive you and your partner apart or bring you back together. If you’re struggling to communicate effectively in your relationship, it could be helpful to speak with a couples therapist. ReGain provides counseling options entirely online for individuals as well as those who are in a relationship. Making the time for therapy might be difficult if you and your partner have demanding careers or work long hours. With online therapy, you can pick a time that works for both of you and meet anywhere you have an internet connection. No matter what you’re facing, a therapist can help you and your partner grow through it together.
The Efficacy Of Online Counseling
Research has shown that couples counseling can effectively reduce conflict in the relationship and increase satisfaction for both partners. In one study, researchers set out to see if an online couples counseling intervention could produce similar results. They found that couples counseling delivered through videoconferencing was a viable alternative to face-to-face options. Couples felt connected to therapist over time and the results showed improvements in relationship satisfaction, mental health, and all other outcome scores. Couples wanting to try online counseling could, therefore, benefit from it just as much as they would from a traditional intervention.
“Sessions with Natalie are very insightful and give practical advice on implementing new habits and changes. Be prepared to engage and be challenged to think in a different way. I know that my partner and I can already see improvements in our relationship and feel more positive about working through our issues together.”
“Austa has been wonderful thus far. She has helped my partner and I during an unimaginably difficult time... She has also guided us in communicating effectively and setting appropriate boundaries in our relationship. I was hesitant to pursue counseling at the beginning, but I truly believe that it is making a difference for our relationship. Austa is easy to talk to and she is a great listener. I would wholeheartedly recommend her as a counselor.”
Communication is one of the most important aspects of a healthy relationship. Without it, a relationship may experience a lack of intimacy, more conflict, and reduced satisfaction for both parties. It can be essential to work with your significant other to find ways to cultivate effective communication within your relationship. If you’re struggling to do this on your own, a couples therapist could help. A ReGain therapist can offer their support from the comfort of your home and help guide you and your partner toward a happier, healthier relationship.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How does lack of communication affect a relationship?
Lack of communication can negatively affect an otherwise healthy relationship; however, what lack of communication means can vary from person to person. For some people, effective communication might include communicating over text messages throughout the day and then speaking over the phone or in person periodically. For others, it may mean actively listening and offering support during conversations, regardless of where they take place.
The importance of communication in a healthy relationship goes beyond just how often you’re speaking – nonverbals like facial expressions and body language communicate quite a bit to your partner as well. Couples who don’t understand the importance of communication may face issues regarding intimacy, conflict, and relational growth. Lack of communication in a relationship can’t be ignored, especially if one of you feels like you can’t communicate with your partner. Some of the signs that it might be time to improve communication include:
- Being critical of one another
- Getting defensive
- Ignoring each other
- Arguments that never get resolved
- Passive aggression
- Arguing about the “facts” of the conflict instead of how the other person is feeling
While these behaviors might show poor communication in an otherwise healthy relationship, they can be corrected when both partners commit to improving their communication skills. Partners who recognize the importance of communication can begin breaking down what honest communication looks like for the kind of relationship they wish to have. Understanding the importance of communication and how it impacts a relationship can help partners fix the broken areas in their own relationship. Some of the impacts on a relationship due to poor communication include:
- Escalated conflict
- A negative perspective of your partner
- Turning away from each other’s attempts to connect
- Feeling unseen or unknown
- Lack of intimacy
- Difficulty setting and reaching goals
Open and honest communication in a relationship can be important; however, if you and your partner don’t feel like you have strong or honest communication in your relationship, it is never too late to improve. To improve communication, you and your partner may begin by having a conversation around why you feel communication in your relationship is lacking and what you can both do to save your relationship. These conversations can be starting points to figuring out the reason why communication has started to break down. If your partner is unwilling to engage in this conversation with you or does not seem to understand the importance of communication, it might be helpful to enlist the help of a couples therapist since they have professional tools that can help you save your relationship.
Why are trust and communication important in a relationship?
Trust and communication can be important in any relationship. When you’re in a relationship where trust and communication are abundant, you are more likely to be yourself and be willing to engage in a deep and meaningful way with your partner. Understanding the importance of trust and communication in a relationship is beneficial not just to you but also to your partner.
When relationship issues arise in an otherwise healthy relationship, it is often due to a lack of trust and/or communication. Some of the most effective ways to combat these issues are understanding the importance of trust and communication as the basis of the relationship and understanding why communication and trust have started to erode within the relationship. When a couple understands the importance of communication and trust in a relationship and where the breakdown has happened, they can begin creating healthier communication patterns that can foster trust as their communication skills improve.
More communication between you and your partner can lead to higher levels of trust in each other, cultivating more confidence within the relationship. By taking the time to begin understanding the importance of trust and communication in a relationship, you can build a stronger and healthier foundation that can help your relationship thrive.
What is healthy communication in a relationship?
Healthy communication in a relationship varies from person to person and relationship to relationship and goes beyond how well you and your partner communicate with one another. You can’t read your partner’s mind, so by clearly talking about and communicating your feelings and expectations to your partner, you can prevent misunderstandings, anger, resentment, hurt, and confusion. It can be important to keep in mind that each person has different communication styles. Different communication styles include passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive.
- People who have a passive communication style usually fail to express their feelings or needs and allow others to express themselves.
- An aggressive communication style is emphasized by a person who speaks in a loud and demanding voice. They often maintain intense eye contact and dominate or control others in conversation.
- A passive-aggressive communication style may appear passive on the surface. Still, the person exhibiting this style may feel powerless or stuck and may build resentment that leads to acting out in indirect ways. Most passive-aggressive communicators often avoid confronting the person or issue directly.
- An assertive communication style is the most effective form of communication. An assertive communication style features an open communication link without being overbearing. Assertive communicators express their needs, desires, ideas, and feelings while also considering those of others.
By figuring out the communication style that you and your partner have, you can more effectively get to the root of what is causing the breakdown in communication, which may allow for a more open and fulfilling relationship.
Can a relationship survive without communication?
Communication is often at the core of a healthy relationship and a relationship may struggle to thrive or even survive without it. Being open and honest with your partner is necessary to have a trusting, healthy, open, and honest relationship.
How do you fix relationship communication problems?
When it comes to fixing relationship communication issues, it can be important to work as a team with your partner to address the issues. Taking the time to speak to one another to figure out where the communication breakdown is happening and what you can do to fix it can be an effective place to start. Work with your partner to identify issues, how those issues make you or your partner feel, and then figure out a plan to address them. Figuring out why the breakdown in communication is happening can help you come up with plan to fix it. When you or your partner slips back into your prior communication style, it can be important to hold each other accountable while also remaining forgiving. Working on communication issues is a long-term commitment that can have lasting benefits to your relationship.
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