First things first, we want to congratulate you on taking the first step towards effectively communicating with your partner. Many of us know that “communication is key” to a healthy relationship, but may not know what effective communication actually looks like. Growing up you may have been lucky enough to have a household that embraced  communication, but some of us were not quite so lucky. It is also important to keep in mind that everyone communicates differently and what may work for you or may have worked in the past might not work for your current relationship.

Like all skills, communication is something that you may have to practice and perfect in order to become proficient in expressing yourself in a healthy manner. However, it’s important for us to be mindful that everyone has a unique way of communicating, and to remember it is a process. BE PATIENT!

Did you or your partner grow up with unhealthy communication? If so, learning how to communicate in a healthy way will become essential to maintaining a healthy relationship. As long as you’re willing to work together, both your communication skills and bond will strengthen over time.

Before we start discussing the process of healthy communication (which is why you’re here), we need to remind you that emotions will occur and it is in fact a good thing. A lot of us avoid having a conversation with our partner because we are worried about their emotional reaction. Will they be Sad, frustrated, and angry?  Don’t let that discourage you, anger, sadness and frustration ARE healthy and normal emotions and usually illustrates that something needs to change. Now before you start yelling at your partner to change because “Inspire” told you to” we want to clarify that how you express your emotions is a very important part of healthy communication.

Now that we’re all on the same page on the importance of healthy communication, let’s go over how to do it.  Below are the basic steps necessary for effectively communicate.

  1. Acknowledge that there is a problem. This sounds simple but sometimes it can be difficult to understand what is truly making you upset. Is it just your partner not doing the laundry or is it something deeper?
  2. Process your feelings. Take the time to understand all the emotions you are feeling so when you do communicate you are able to share everything and not just the first instinctual emotion.
  3. Schedule a time with your partner to discuss the problem. Try not to ambush your partner. Instead give them the time to process their feelings as well before sitting down to discuss.
  4. Be willing to listen. You want to make sure you create an environment where both of you feel safe and comfortable to speak freely. One great way to make sure both of you are heard is to use a timer that way each one of you is heard in an equal manner.
  5. Be open to their perspective. Before you have the conversation you have to go in with an open mind that their feelings and response are just as valid and important as yours.
  6. Discuss your feelings. Use “I” and “me” statements to make sure your feelings are heard and not make the other defensive. This allows you all to address the problem and not place blame on each other. Be mindful not to confuse feelings with thoughts.
  7. Listen to their feelings and feedback. Allow your partner to be open and honest about they feel about the situation. It’s imperative that you actively listen to what they have to say and not simply wait to reply or defend yourself.
  8. Compromise. Relationships often times require for someone, if not both of you, to compromise on the solution. It’s important for you to be willing to find a resolution that you’re both satisfied with.

Remember, it is never too late to learn how to practice healthy communication. However, if you and your partner try the steps above and still feel like you’re speaking different languages, it may be time to seek the help of a professionals. The counselors at Inspire Counseling and Support Center are here to support you through the process.