6. Try to minimize emotion when talking about important, big decisions.
Nobody can talk about important, big matters if they feel emotionally vulnerable or charged-up and angry. Those are not the times to talk about the serious issues (like money, getting married, the kids, or retirement). You might think it impossible, nonsensical or even contradictory to talk about an emotional topic like getting married or having children without emotion. And yet, these discussions need to keep a foothold of rationality to them in order to not gloss over the realities that they bring. Marriage, for instance, brings the combining of households and living with another person day-to-day. Having kids isn’t just about cute toddler clothes and painting the nursery, but talking about who’s going to change diapers, feed the newborn, and be available at all hours of the day and night for months on end.
7. Be ready to cede an argument.
How many times do we continue to argue or have a heated discussion because we simply want to be “right.” I’ve talked about this sense of needing to “win” arguments more than once. Why? Because so many of couples’ arguments revolve around one party thinking they’re “right” and the other party not willing to cede the point or back off. In fact, though, both parties need to back off.
By doing this, are you giving up a piece of yourself by compromising and not insisting on how right you are? Well, that’s something only you can decide. Would you rather be in a happy relationship where you respect the other person, even if you may occasionally disagree with them? Or would you rather be in an unhappy relationship where you know you’re always right, no matter what? It just comes down to your priorities — if being “right” is more important to you than your partner’s happiness, then perhaps you have not found the right partner.
8. Humor and playfulness usually help.
You don’t have to be funny in order to use humor and playfulness in everyday conversations. You just need to use the sense of humor you do have and try and inject it into more of your communications with your partner. Humor helps lighten everyday frustrations and helps puts things into perspective more gently than other methods. Playfulness reminds us that even as adults, we all have a side to us that enjoys fun and taking a break from the seriousness of work and other demands made on us.
9. Communicating is more than just talking.
To communicate better and more effectively in your relationship, you don’t only have to talk. You can communicate in other ways — through your actions, and nowadays, electronically too (through email, Facebook, blogs, texting or Twitter). All too often, couples focus only on the talking aspect of their relationship, but your actions also speak loudly. Keeping in touch throughout the day or week through email or other electronic means also reminds the person you’re thinking about them and how important they are in your life. Even if such communications are mainly playful or inconsequential, they can help lighten your partner’s day and improve their mood.
Some couples also find that using email or another method is easier to discuss emotional issues rather than trying to do so face-to-face. It’s something to consider if every time you try and bring up a particular topic with your significant other, it turns into an argument or they shy away from it. Email or texting may be a way of communicating about such matters more openly and directly.
Nobody is a perfect communicator all the time. But you can work to become a better communicator by trying a few of these tips. They won’t all work, nor will they work all the time. Better communication, however, starts with one person making the effort to improve, which often encourages the other to come along for the ride.