In every relationship, open and honest communication should be an integral part of it among couples. This aids in understanding your partner better and helps to have a smooth and stress free relationship.
A great technique to improve communication in any personal relationship is Marshall B.Rosenberg’s nonviolent communication.
It is based on the willingness and the ability to approach and perceive issues in a non-judgmental way. This is important because whenever you want to change someone, you will create resistance.
This technique is great to discuss an issue that is on your mind. For instance, your partner arrives late for your date and you feel angry and disappointed.
For a positive outcome of the conversation follow these four steps:
Firstly, try to communicate your observations without labelling or interpreting them. In the case of your date arriving late, it is just that: he is late.
Your interpretation may be that the date (or you) doesn’t mean a great deal to him or that something else was more important.
So rather than buying into your interpretation, you could simply say “I realize you were late for our date”. This is a factual observation without any evaluation.
Feelings and thoughts.
Secondly, it is important that you communicate your feelings. An argument often develops from hidden emotions. Make sure you understand your emotions and express them in a non-judgmental way.
In the case of a late arrival of your date, you could say “I am feeling annoyed”, or “I am bothered by this because it makes me wonder whether you are looking forward to spending time with me”.
Thirdly, you need to understand and express your needs. In doing so, you give your partner the chance to decide whether they can and want to meet them. For instance, you could say: “I would like to be treated with consideration and I would like to feel important to you“.
The fourth step is to make a clear request. What does your partner have to do for you to feel that your needs have been met? You could simply say: “That is why I ask you to arrive at the agreed time..
The four-step process is, as Rosenberg (2003) puts it, “simple but not easy” and it will take some time to get your head around it. It may feel clunky at first, but you will find that with practice your communication will become clearer. You are accepting your partner with all their flaws and asking them in a nonviolent way for what you need in order to be happy.
The various tips to use in communicating with your partner so as to achieve a healthy communication are:
Find the Right Time.
If something is bothering you and you would like to have a conversation about it, it can be helpful to find the right time to talk. Try to find a time when both you and your partner are calm and not distracted, stressed or in a rush. You might even consider scheduling a time to talk if one or both of you is really busy!
Talk Face to Face.
Avoid talking about serious matters or issues in writing. Text messages, letters and emails can be misinterpreted. Talk in person so there aren’t any unnecessary miscommunications. If you’re having trouble collecting your thoughts, consider writing them down ahead of time and reading them out loud to your partner.
Do Not Attack.
Even when we mean well, we can sometimes come across as harsh because of our word choice. Using “you” can sound like you’re attacking, which will make your partner defensive and less receptive to your message. Instead, try using “I” or “we.” For example, say “I feel like we haven’t been as close lately” instead of “You have been distant with me.”
Agree to be honest. Sometimes the truth hurts, but it’s the key to a healthy relationship. Admit that you aren’t always perfect and apologize when you make a mistake instead of making excuses. You will feel better and it will help strengthen your relationship.
Check Your Body Language.
Let your partner know you’re really listening by giving them your full attention: sit up, face them and make eye contact when speaking. Don’t take a phone call, text or play a video game when you’re talking. Show your partner you respect them by listening and responding.
Use the 48 Hour Rule.
If your partner does something that makes you angry, you need to tell them about it. But you don’t have to do so right away. If you’re still hurt 48 hours later, say something. If not, consider forgetting about it. But remember your partner can’t read your mind. If you don’t speak up when you’re upset, there is no way for them to apologize or change. Once you do mention your hurt feelings and your partner sincerely apologises, let it go. Don’t bring up past issues if they’re not relevant.