Many of us begin a relationship and expect to live happily ever after.  While this may sometimes be the case, it is not something that always happens without much difficulty.

Among other things, committed relationships bring companionship, support during hard times, and someone to laugh with at the end of the day. They also bring misunderstandings, conflicts needing to be resolved and hurt feelings.

Where does this come from?

Many couples will often share their communication concerns during a psychotherapy session.  The most common complaint is that they do not ‘understand each other’ like they used to.  It is common to get stuck in faulty patterns of communications.  Clients will tell of times when they find themselves wondering when their partner ‘changed’ or when they became such a ‘poor communicator’.  Frankly speaking, this may not be the case at all.  Simply being aware of how we convey our ideas to our loved ones can really spare hurt feelings in the end.

How can this be avoided or minimized?Five Tips

Think before you speak

It is very easy to blurt the first thing that comes to mind during an argument.  Taking a moment to think about what you want to say can really help you frame your thoughts in a positive light.   This can help you say things clearly, increase the likelihood that you will be understood and that your message will be well received.

Listen

This might sound like common sense, but a lot of us do not take the time to really listen to someone else when they are speaking. We are so busy with what we want to say that we do not even take in what the person is saying.

Reflect

Take a moment to rephrase what you think your partner is saying to you. This allows for you to say things in your own words. It will show your partner that you are listening. It will also help you get clarification on an issue on which you are unclear – something that can help avoid misunderstandings later.

Change your Shoes!

Sometimes when we try to see things from another person’s perspective we are able to understand more clearly what they are trying to say.  If we step back and consider the other person’s circumstances, we might be able to get an idea of what they are feeling.

Practice, practice, and practice some more

The more you get into the habit of doing something, the better your skill will become. Good communication skills are not different. Practicing these tips and always being mindful of what you are saying will help improve your communication with your partner.  Try to practice these tips on a regular basis, not just in the middle of an argument.  Use day-to-day moments to share and connect with one another.

The formula for a perfectly happy committed relationship does not exist – or at least I haven’t found it yet! But, keeping a few pointers in mind when we talk to the ones we love can’t hurt!