Communication has many benefits. Couples who engage in open and flowing communication tend to have a more significant success rate than couples who do not. My husband and I have been working on our communication with each other for quite some time now, and I would like to share some of the benefits we have gotten from this practice.
- We can manage more difficult emotions together
- We support one another through individual trials
- Healthier intimacy
- No guesswork involved! You and your partner will know the truth about how you are feeling and will be able to work through things at a more reasonable pace instead of playing a guessing game as to what the other needs/wants
- More respect (both for the self and for one another)
- Reduce conflict and resolve it quickly
Communication is the foundation of most healthy and balanced relationships. In order to successfully navigate issues in your relationships, learning to communicate is key.
Before we learned to communicate effectively, many of our small issues and problems would get pushed “under the rug,” and we would neglect or even forget to bring them back up to solve in the future. There are many ways to practice communication and here are a few:
- Scheduled time – Schedule an hour or more a week to just talk with your partner. Be sure to schedule a time when you likely won’t have many interruptions (children are asleep, phones and televisions off). Either spend time talking about new things and emotions or keep a list throughout your week of instances you would like to discuss and work through.
- Write notes – My husband struggles to share his emotions outwardly, so we have found that note writing satisfies his want to provide words of affirmation to his wife and my need to be reassured that I am loved in this way.
- Visit a couple’s therapist – When my husband and I first started our communication journey, we utilized a licensed therapist to assist us in discussing the issues we were unable to repair on our own.
More suggestions for healthy communication:
- Active listening
- Seeking to view your partner’s point of view
- Using “I” statements – “I feel angry when you dismiss my feelings”
- Take a time out before approaching difficult topics
- Ask for help
- Be mindful of non-verbal communication and body language
- Show respect to your partner while they are sharing
- Own your shortcomings & be accountable for your own emotions
Self-awareness is another important aspect of successful relationships. Having an idea of your personal values, what motivates you, what brings you joy, and what causes you emotional pain will allow you to express these ideas to your partner, enabling successful communication throughout the relationship.
Every individual is unique; therefore, the discovery of the “self” will vary. It is important to take time to find the self-discovery pathway that is right for you. As for my husband and me, our journeys have looked different than one another. Below, I have identified a few key factors to self-awareness and some statements that correspond with this idea.
- Emotional regulation (emotional Intelligence)
- Understanding that most situations are not “black and white”
- Less judgment is a benefit of self-awareness
- Ability to name how you are feeling instead of acting out how you are feeling
- Being open to feedback and responsibility
- Ability to have a deeper knowledge of your partner and their core needs and how they respond to your words and actions
Connection is the never-ending goal of every relationship; to feel heard and be able to give this in return. Brené Brown has provided four keys to real connection, and I believe this list has truly helped me cultivate connection in all the relationships I hold in my life.
Brené Brown’s 4 identified elements of true belonging and connection:
- People are hard to hate close up. Move in.
- Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil.
- Hold hands. With strangers.
- Strong Back. Soft Front. Wild Heart.
The true element of connection is in our willingness to be vulnerable. If we can break past core beliefs that vulnerability is weakness and embrace it as a tool to love and connection, it is then that we will find the sense of belonging we seek.
Vulnerability has been a difficult feat for myself and my husband in our relationship. We work on this daily – and I encourage you to do the same! I have listed some tips below to assist in being vulnerable with your partner and cultivating true connection in your relationships.
- Creating moments of joy to look back upon in difficult times
- Intentions of being open and loving towards your partner
- Importance of being present with your partner
- Planning time to be together
- Free flowing conversation is a result of vulnerability
- Study your partner, get to know them
- Willingness to be vulnerable about your feelings and emotions
Communication is hard work, being vulnerable is hard work, and these factors make relationships of all kinds just that – hard work. However, suppose you are able to work through these difficult aspects and be proactive in allowing your partner to feel loved and appreciated for who they are. In that case, it is then that you will begin to find true connection and belonging in your relationships.
More on Brené Brown & her research on shame, vulnerability, and connection
Developing Self-awareness to improve relationships
Hold Me Tight By: Sue Johnson
7 Principles that Make Marriage Work
By: John Gottman
Make Love Better
By: Jan Dworkin, PhD
Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
By: Brené Brown