A happy relationship is many things, from spending time with each other while making time for our friends to little things like surprising our partner with flowers or dinner.
But the #1 requirement for a happy relationship? Communication. Read on to learn why and discover some tips to create better communication in your relationship.
What’s the best thing you can do for your relationship? Listening. It’s a bit part of communication and does wonders for your relationship. Learn why here.
Why is communication so important in a relationship?
Here are just a few reasons why communication is so vital in a relationship.
It builds trust
When you communicate openly and honestly with your partner, you build trust, a vital part of a strong relationship. It’s a way of implicitly saying: this is honestly how I feel. You bare your soul to your partner, making yourself vulnerable.
Consequently, your partner is given a privileged insight into your inner self. When this is done mutually, you build trust with each other by exposing your deepest vulnerabilities.
It gets issues out in the open
When we have a problem with someone, it’s often the case that the last person to know if the person themselves. We’ll complain about it to all and sundry, but the person who is actually causing the issue is often none the wiser.
And the same applies in a relationship. When we have a problem with a partner, it’s tempting to complain about them to our friends. But the relief of telling someone else is only temporary — the issue remains.
Communication gets to the root of the problem so you can resolve it together, quickly and smoothly.
It makes the other person feel valued
Telling someone how you feel is a huge thing. Giving away your secrets and true emotions is hugely intimate, often something reserved for the privileged people in our lives.
So when you let a partner behind the veil with an insight into what you really think, feel, and believe, that’s a big thing. It shows that they are one of those privileged few, which in turn makes them feel valued.
That feeling of value goes both ways, causing them to offer their own candid secrets and feelings just as readily. This brings you both closer together as a result.
How to communicate for a happy relationship
You know why communication matters — now let’s look at how we can better communicate in our relationships.
Acknowledge your partner’s feelings
A constant source of frustration in relationships is when one person feels as though the other does not appreciate the validity of their feelings.
For instance, I was once upset with my partner because they didn’t return my call while he was out. He was annoyed that I found it such an issue, but failed to acknowledge that I was worried about him. In the end, what annoyed me wasn’t that he didn’t call me, but that he didn’t appreciate why I was concerned.
When you argue with your partner, always acknowledge the validity of their feelings — even if they seem irrational to you. This ensures each party comes to the table on an equal footing, rather than feeling as though they are perceived as wrong.
Don’t be afraid of saying sorry
A wise man (and an excellent pianist) once said that sorry seems to be the hardest word. And indeed it is — saying sorry puts you on the back foot, an open acknowledgment that you are in the wrong.
Consequently, we shy away from saying it during arguments, waiting for our partner to say it first.
But the bigger person is the first to say sorry.
Don’t apologize in order to make your partner say sorry back, but use it to spark a conversation. This breaks the tension and turns an argument into a discussion, de-escalating it as a result.
As Andrew Guerra describes it: “An apology cannot change what has been done, but it can help to ease the tension and relieve stress. Apologizing gives hope for rebuilding.”
Yes, it’s tough. But it’s the first step towards fixing your relationship, so it’s a little word worth saying.
Think about the words you say
Words are a powerful thing. Even the smallest change in vocabulary can cause deep rifts that hinder any conflict resolution.
Consider these two sentences for a good example of how language can impact a discussion’s direction:
#1: “You never ask how I feel, you don’t care about what I like, and you always take me for granted!”
#2: “Recently, I feel as though you haven’t appreciated me and my feelings. I know we’ve both been busy, but I’d really appreciate it if we could spend some time together this weekend to regroup.”
The first sentence opens with an accusation to the subject, while the second focuses on the speaker’s feelings. While the first is perhaps more immediately cathartic, it only serves to exacerbate the conflict by making the other party feel attacked.
The second one, however, places the focus on the speaker. It creates an equal playing field that works for both parties.
It sounds simple, but think before you speak — an errant sentence can undo your argument resolution in seconds.
There are countless unconscious cues that our body gives off which impact our communication. Beyond the words we say, the way we say them and our body language goes a long way towards influencing how the other person perceives us.
So when you communicate with each other, speak softly and calmly. This implicitly relaxes the other person, creating a conducive atmosphere to resolve issues.
Effective communication in relationships requires time and effort. But get it right, and your relationship will be all the more rewarding for it.