Effective Communication in Relationships: 5 Key Tips
Effective Communication

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When effective communication in a relationship is the norm, both partners tend to feel close, connected, and on the same page.  When communication is lacking, feelings such as confusion and frustration tend to be the norm.  According to research, a staggering 67% of marriages end because of communication issues, which shows how difficult it can be for couples to be vulnerable and share their wishes, wants, and desires with each other.

It’s no secret that understanding how to communicate is the key to a healthy, happy relationship.  But if you don’t understand the basic rules, you may end up insulting your partner and causing further rifts in the relationship.

Sounds familiar? Luckily, we’ve got the answers. Here are five must-know tips on effective communication.

1. Set Aside Time to Talk

As time marches on, many relationships grow tired and wilt because partners don’t carve out time for one another. No one should stew in negative emotions as they result in constant bickering and won’t address why you’re arguing.  Luckily, there’s a simple solution to combat this, which is making time for one another.

Dedicate an hour every week to discuss your emotions or any issues that you’re struggling with, even if it’s not relationship-based. If you are dealing with relationship problems, this gives you time to chip away at it and figure out the root cause.

2. Be Honest and Open

One of the top communication tips is to always be honest and open with your partner. If something is bothering you, express your feelings respectfully; otherwise, it could worsen matters.  For instance, if you’re still angry, temporarily step away so that you can cool off and return when you’ve calmed down.

3. Seek to Understand

Our relationship guide wouldn’t be complete without mentioning this golden rule: seeking to understand.  To show that you’re seeking to understand, ask your partner questions to get a deeper understanding. This simple act will show your loved one that you’re invested and want to help them through this rocky patch.

Try active listening because it’s a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding. It is an important first step to defuse the situation and seek to understand what’s getting in the way of moving forward.  In doing so, push your ego aside so that you can absorb what you’re partner is saying. If you are compelled to share an opinion or make a remark, slow down and calm your anxious heart.

If you’re struggling with active listening, start by being present and focused on what your partner’s saying.  Active listening involves truly listening to your partner without judgment. It is listening in such a way as to let them know that you fully understand what is being said.  (Note: doing so does not mean that you agree.  It simply gives your partner the freedom to express their perspective).  Sometimes it is verbally responding to what they say.

However, rather than interpret what they mean,  it’s important to seek to understand your partner’s ideas, from their perspective (This is key).  Next, it’s important to offer your understanding of the ideas back to them (not your biased interpretation), to confirm that the meaning of their idea has been understood correctly by you—the active listener.  For instance, say, “If I heard you accurately, you don’t like it when I take phone calls during our walks.  It makes you feel like I don’t care.  Is that accurate?”

This shows your partner that you value their feelings and lets them explain what they’re struggling with further. As a result, it’ll be easier to find solutions and improve your relationship tenfold.

4. Control Your Emotions

Out of all the relationship skills you can hone, controlling your emotions is invaluable. It can be tempting to lash out when you’re angry, but this will put your partner on the defensive and prolong the disagreement. In a worst-case scenario, you may say hurtful things that you regret later on.

Likewise, with your loved one. If you can tell they’re upset or angry, give them the space they need to relax and calm down before inviting them to talk.

5. Make Intentional Language Choices

The words we choose and the language we use have a powerful impact on our partners.  Our words represent our beliefs, morals, prejudices, and principles—sometimes in ways, we may not mean—and can shape our partner’s perceptions of us as well as the issues we are discussing.

For example, when you’re in an argument, avoid absolute language like “always,” “only,” and “never.”  Also, be careful of dogmatic phrases like, “You should…  You must… You’re supposed to.. ” for they tend to be irrational and overstated.  Instead, try to express your wishes, wants, and preferences.  Those are far more rational and balanced.

Although these words and phrases don’t sound that important, your partner may feel like you’re patronizing or attacking them when they are used.  So, for example, instead of “you never wash the dishes,” say, “if you could help me with the housework more, I’ll really appreciate it.”  Or, “I would prefer that you wash the dishes.  Can you do that for me?”  These simple changes are far more positive and rational.

Additionally, when you’re sharing problems, use “I” statements, so you take accountability. You could say, for example, “I should have taken out the garbage when I knew you were swamped with work.” This lets your partner feel heard and shows that you’re willing to collaborate with them.

Avoid These Poor Communication Mistakes

Many couples fall into the trap of ignoring effective communication tips and making common mistakes.

A major one is giving your loved one the silent treatment. This is when an individual wants to exert control over the relationship by creating emotional distance. Often, the other party surrenders because they want peace.

Although this doesn’t seem harmful, it means that the root cause goes unresolved and will manifest in other ways later on. Also, the partner on the receiving end may feel unloved, confused, and worthless, which has no place in a healthy relationship.

Couples should also avoid turning disagreements into screaming matches. You won’t be able to discuss the problem calmly and you’ll likely resent your partner for raising their voice. It’ll also cause additional conflict that will leave you both hurt.

Lastly, don’t make the mistake of not asking for what you want because nobody can read your mind.  In so many cases, we assume our partner understands our needs, which sets them up for failure. To prevent this, be honest about why you’re feeling a certain way and suggest ways that your partner can help.

Know When to Seek Professional Help

You’ve read our communication guide and applied the tips, but you still need additional help. If you’re in this current situation, it’s wise to seek professional help as a partnership. Attending couples counseling comes with a range of benefits, from developing skills for navigating disagreements to strengthening your bond as a whole.

Our Top Tips for Effective Communication

Now it’s time to use these tips in your relationship.  Prioritizing good communication will help you both tackle agreements responsibly and strengthen your bond. And to avoid any issues, take on board the negative methods so that you don’t make the same mistakes. Good luck!

If you’re struggling and want relationship counseling, contact us here to get started.













About the Author

Steve Cuffari

Steve Cuffari

For over 20 years, Steve Cuffari has been an ordained minister, assistant college professor of psychology at vanguard university, and a therapist committed to helping individuals, couples, and educators learn how to put an end to destructive conversations so they can build secure and lasting relationships... More about Steve →


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