Even the best relationships can hit occasional rough patches due to prolonged stress, depression, or just the pressures of everyday life. For those who may not have always had the healthiest relationship models during their formative years, maintaining open lines of communication through these troubled waters can be a challenge.
Fortunately, implementing a few tried-and-true methods can help you when it comes to tackling difficult conversations or just avoiding a blow-up that seemingly comes out of nowhere. Read on for several communication techniques that can help you improve the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of your relationship.
Separate Reactions From Responses
During stressful times, it can be easy to project your frustrations from other situations onto a matter at hand, hurting your partner’s feelings in the process. By taking a deep breath before responding to a question or statement that has upset you and asking yourself whether you’re preparing to react (without thinking) or respond (to the question asked or statement made), you’ll be able to avoid knee-jerk reactions you may regret later.
Make a Request Instead Of a Complaint
The analogy of a nagging wife and her oblivious husband has been thoroughly exploited in pop culture for centuries. While stereotypical and occasionally even offensive, at the core lies one nugget of truth—a series of complaints without any corresponding request for action (or, better yet, a solution). The result? A complaint that likely falls on deaf ears.
Regardless of the gender dynamics at issue, if you’re planning to make a complaint about your partner’s behavior or actions, it’s best to include either a specific request or a proposed solution. The difference in reaction between “you can’t ever manage to put your clothes in the hamper!” and “could you please put your clothes in the hamper?” can often be a substantial one.
Take Time-Outs When Needed
Important conversations can be tense and involve a varying range of emotions. If you or your partner needs to pause the conversation to provide some breathing room or space to think before responding, it’s important for this need to be respected. Pressing someone to continue a conversation when they need some time can lead to strife and statements that may later be regretted.
On the other side of this coin, it’s respectful to get back to this conversation within a reasonable time frame. Using timeout as an excuse to push off difficult conversations or avoid making an important decision can be a breach of your partner’s trust.
Invest Time In Your Relationship
Even if you and your partner are unable to spend much time together on a daily basis due to work or school, it’s important to carve out at least a few minutes every day to focus on communicating (or just spending time) with each other. This means putting away phones, laptops, and other distractions and turning your entire focus to your partner, and expecting the same respect and attention in return.
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