In this article we will talk about how to better communicate with your partner and make your relationship thrive.
Most couples understand that communication is important for a healthy relationship. But most people don’t know that good communication takes practice.
My partner and I have been dating for nine months, and though our communication is stronger than it was four months ago, it’s a skill that no couple ever stops developing.
Talking about your individual struggles and digging into your relationship issues rather than pretending they don’t exist can strengthen your partnership and ensure that no one’s feeling shut out.
In the end, your tough conversations should build love, trust, and understanding. In my case, better communication has lead to less arguments, a solid bond, and deepened empathy.
Here are few tips to improve your communication skills, whether you’re the one talking or listening.
If you like all or some of the points, share this article with your partner and discuss which ideas you’d like to incorporate into your communication as a couple.
1. Talk About Any Problem You Have, Even If It Makes You Feel Ridiculous
If you want to learn how to better communicate with your partner, this is one of the first things you should learn.
I sometimes struggle to tell my girlfriend how I feel when I have a problem.
I’m not good at being vulnerable because I’m afraid of being judged or being seen as sensitive. But I later realized that every time I held back, she felt hurt.
Over and over she told me, “I don’t care if you’re jealous or insecure. Whatever you feel, tell me. I want to know.”
Eventually I started opening up more when something bothered me, whether it was an internal, external, or relationship struggle. Big or small.
If I feel insecure or I’m having a hard day, I talk to her about it, and in the end, I feel better or more confident.
An article in My Online Therapy reads:
“In the short-term, suppressing our feelings might mean overreacting in situations. In the long-term, it can have much more serious consequences – leading to issues like depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.”
Communication is good for you individually and as a couple.
If my partner says something that hurts me, instead of pretending that it didn’t—because I don’t want to seem “difficult”— I tell her. What happens next? She doesn’t make that mistake again.
Because of that, I trust her even more. Communication is important, but so is the action that follows it.
2. Call Them Out the Moment You Feel Bothered
The best time to tell your partner that something’s bothering you is the moment you feel bothered. This is a communication skill my girlfriend excels at.
The moment she feels annoyed or hurt by me, she tells me.
When I was annoyed or hurt, I waited to tell her—and by “wait,” I mean, she noticed something was off and had to directly ask me.
That’s dangerous in a relationship. Here’s why.
Imagine that your partner’s always late to your dates. At first, it’s not a problem. Eventually, it starts bothering you, but because you don’t want to make a a big deal, you “let it go.”
This doesn’t seem like a problem until, months later, your partner arrives twenty minutes later, and you explode. “Don’t you care about me? You’re always late. You never take our dates seriously.”
That’s not the case, of course, but now you’re fighting about it. You know that your partner’s late to all their appointments—but it’s become a personal issue.
Since you didn’t bring it up when it first became a problem, you built resentment. A small issue became a huge problem.
“Resentment is often caused when someone feels slighted or harmed by another person in their life, and they do not feel that the person has apologized or made amends in a manner that is satisfactory to them,” shared psychologist Charmain Jackman Ph.D.
But sometimes in order for someone to know they did something wrong, you have to tell them.
What could you have done instead? You could’ve mentioned it immediately. Maybe you would’ve found a solution, or your partner would make an effort to arrive on time to your next date.
A fight could’ve been avoided because you “made a fuss.”
The key is to use the words, “I feel.”
Make it about you, and they will be more understanding.
3. Listen to Your Partner Without Judgement
When it comes to learn how to better communicate with your partner, learning to listen without judging is probably one of the most important steps.
Communication is more than just talking.
Have you ever had a fight with someone and only half-listened their argument because you were too focused on how you’d defend yourself?
Those fights last a long time because if there’s no understanding from either side, the argument doesn’t end.
There shouldn’t be a winner or loser at the end of a fight.
The most important conclusion you can come to is deeper understanding and empathy. How do you reach that? By listening.
If my girlfriend is explaining to me that I hurt her, I’m not going to form a defense in my head as to why I didn’t.
That would invalidate her feelings, so the very least I can do is listen to why she feels that way. Even if I didn’t hurt her on purpose, I still have to take responsibility.
You have to listen without judgement. Don’t judge your partner for how they feel, call them sensitive, and say they’re being dramatic.
When you do this you invalidate their feelings and weaken their trust in you. No one wants to be in a relationship where they’re not emotionally safe.
4. Process Their Words Before You Answer
If you haven’t been creating a defense in your head as if you’re a lawyer, then you shouldn’t have an immediate reply once your partner’s finished speaking.
Instead of diving in, take a moment to process their words.
Think about what your partner told you about how they’re feeling, because that’s where that magical thing happens: you develop empathy and understanding.
You open space to take responsibility for what you did and then take the appropriate action to fix it.
That’s the reason my girlfriend and I haven’t really had any big fights.
Every time we found ourselves in a situation that could’ve led to one, we nip it in the bud before the spark turns into a flame. If we hurt one another, which we have, we choose to listen.
Now, what if it’s your partner who did the hurting?
I don’t want you to think that you can’t get mad, defend yourself, or call your partner out. You can, and you should. Of course, this all depends on the mistake.
If you caught your partner cheating, for example, that’s a new conversation.
When your partner explains what they were thinking in that moment they hurt you and why they acted the way they did, you see them with new eyes.
Because that’s the secret: there’s always more than meets the eye. When you understand someone, it makes it easy to heal.
People don’t just hurt one another out of nowhere. There’s always a past, an explanation.
This doesn’t excuse their behavior, and it’s not a pass for them to do it again. You can be understanding but firm: “I understand why you’re acting like this, but you don’t get to talk to me like that.”
5. Don’t Attack Your Partner
“Why are you acting like such a bitch?”
“You’re being such an asshole today.”
“Get out of here, I don’t even want to see your face.”
These are actual phrases I’ve heard couples say to each other. Yes, around other people.
These couples manage to get over it and move on, and the next day, they’re okay again. (If that’s what okay looks like.)
I would never allow my partner to talk to me like, and I wouldn’t let myself talk like that to her. One, it’s disrespectful and mean.
Second, what’s the point? What is that going to solve? You’ll only hurt your partner further.
Instead of attacking your partner, tell them they’re hurting you.
You could say something like, “I don’t know what’s wrong, but you can’t talk to me like that.”
Or “I get that you’re angry, but you shouldn’t let it out on me. I’m here for you, so don’t push me away. What’s wrong?”
Most of the time, your partner will drop their defenses, apologize to you, and tell you what’s wrong. Because people rarely get angry for no reason.
In the end, you heal, feel more love, and can move on without resentment.
6. Don’t Assume What Your Partner is Thinking or Saying: Ask Direct Questions
“Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”– Tony Robbins
If you want to better communicate with your partner, you have to learn to ask quality questions.
Just because you can read your partners face when they’re angry or know what they’re thinking from a single glance across the room doesn’t mean you can actually read their mind.
Never assume what your partner is thinking because you’re probably assuming the worst.
You also don’t want to assume what they’re saying by adding meaning behind their words. If you genuinely feel like they’re holding back, ask them to be honest.
My girlfriend and I prefer to ask each other direct questions.
Even simple ones like, “Are you mad?” or “Did I hurt you?” or “What are you feeling right now?” It clears confusion so that you can get to the root of the problem.
You can have a clear conversation. And if you don’t understand, say it. Or ask questions like, “But why?” Don’t just stay silent and assume.
If you want a clear conversation, ask clear questions. We could expect ourselves or our partners to talk openly from the start, but most of us aren’t like that. The next best thing?
Asking questions that open a conversation.
If you’re willing to be vulnerable, you and your partner can improve your communication skills.
How to Better Communicate with Your Partner – Final Thoughts
As I said in the beginning, communication takes practice.
You won’t be masterful straight away, and you’ll probably have to figure out how to navigate arguments before they turn into huge fights yourself.
Though it might look a little different in every relationship, here are a few good places to start:
- Even if you feel embarrassed, talk about how you feel,
- Say something as soon as you feel bothered/sad/etc. instead of pretending you’re okay,
- Don’t judge your partner or call them “sensitive” and “dramatic,”
- The classic rule: think before you speak,
- Don’t attack your partner. Instead, be more empathetic,
- Ask direct questions, and don’t assume you know how your partner feels.
What you want is to establish a relationship where you feel emotionally safe. Developing those communication skills is one of the best places to start.