What does healthy communication look like? Yelling is ineffective. Noncommunication — giving the cold shoulder or ignoring him or her — is a means of communication. According to a 2013 Huffington Post survey, poor communcation is the No. 1 reason for divorce. Here are a few tips that might help you and your partner improve your communication.
Use active listening. Try to concentrate. Try to understand what your partner is communicating to you. If you do not understand what your partner is saying and feeling, the two of you will not make any progress.
Nonverbal communication speaks louder than words. Pay attention to your body language. What are you giving off to the person talking to you? Are you rolling your eyes at them? Giving them the impression that whatever they are saying doesn’t matter? Are you looking away and not making eye contact? How about folding your arms? Are you shutting yourself off to them? Be aware of your body language and the signs you are sending because it says a lot.
How are you responding to your partner? Are you taking in what they are saying? Or are you hearing what they have to say and thinking about your side of the discussion, so you can have a response? Go use those active listening skills of concentrating and understanding and respond to what they are saying to you.
Avoid the Blame Game
One of the most frustrating aspects of a relationship for each partner is being blamed for all the relationship’s faults. There are two people in the relationship and it’s likely each has a part in its problems. To place sole blame on your partner is not fair to you, them, or the relationship. It is extremely important to have self-awareness or an insight on your own behavior and actions.
Personally, I try to remember a quote from Carl Jung when I am in an argument: “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves.” To me, this quote speaks to the importance of being able to compromise in an uncomfortable situation. Sometimes, it’s not about how you feel, but about how you make them feel.
Learning Your Partner
You’ve heard the saying, “he or she knows how to push my buttons.” You know what upsets your partner and you know what makes them happy. What are you doing? Are you purposely not communicating well to pick a fight or getting on their nerves for some reason? Look at what you are doing in knowing your partner.
Also, learning your partner’s love languages can go a long way. What is important to them? Is it quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, physical touch? Research the book The 5 Love Languages to learn more about the different types.
Are you taking in what your partner is saying and then implementing it? If your wife comes to you and says, “I need you to want to spend more quality time” and shows you how to give her what she needs, what do you do with that?
You can try these tips on your own and see if they work for you. But if you think you need additional help, a marriage and family therapist may be able to improve the communication between you and your partner.