Whether you’ve only been together for several months or have spent years in a long-term relationship, occasional fights with your significant other are perfectly normal. In fact, recognizing that there’s an issue with your communication and wanting to fix it is a sign you truly care about your partner. In addition to working with a counselor, use the following tips to prevent discussions from escalating into arguments.
Ways to Improve Communication Skills With Your Partner
1. Focus on Listening and Avoiding Distraction
Sometimes, your partner just wants to know you’re invested in the relationship. Unfortunately, the wealth of distractions in the world today can make it hard to give people undivided attention. To show your partner that you’re truly listening, use words and motions to let them know you’re present. Counselors recommend saying phrases like “right,” or “really?” or “I understand” to make your partner feel like they’re talking to a person who loves them and is interested in what they have to say. If you disagree or have a question, wait until they pause instead of interrupting to speak your mind.
2. Avoid Being Accusatory, Use Active Listening Techniques
Of course, not every conversation will be positive, and there will be times when you need to tell your partner when you don’t like something they do or say. Unfortunately, when you start a sentence with “I don’t like when you,” your partner will instantly go on the defensive. Instead of framing your opinion in this way, drop the accusatory language, and use “I” statements. For example, “I feel sad when” will go a lot farther in convincing your loved one to change their behavior.
3. Highlight the Positives
In relationships, positive reinforcement is crucial. If you feel like your significant other doesn’t pick you up from the airport enough, tell them how appreciated you felt that one time they did. If you like when they consider your opinion instead of making a decision for both of you, tell them how considerate it was for them to ask where you wanted to go to dinner. By focusing on the positives, you can encourage your partner to be even better.
If you’re having trouble communicating with your partner and would like to speak to a counselor, contact Colleen Torrence, MED, LPC today. This Juneau, AK-based therapist is proud to help couples and individuals in Southeast Alaska work through their pasts and build a stronger future. With more than 15 years of experience helping patients find peace, you can trust her to do the same for you. For more information on this trusted counselor, visit the website. Call (907) 789-9212 to set up an appointment.