How to Communicate Properly With Your Significant OtherDisclaimer: This article's tips will not work if you are in a relationship with an unhealthy person. Power struggles on one side of the relationship are often labeled as "miscommunication." The partner not trying to achieve dominance is left hurt and confused when trying to voice feelings in a gentle, caring way because his/her partner gets angry, pretends not to "get" what he or she is talking about, or promises to change then does not.
Please refer to my Signs You Are in an Unhealthy/Abusive/Controlling Relationship and the sources at the bottom to learn what healthy communication is NOT.
Congratulations! Upon reading this article, you are taking one step to making your relationship even better, or preparing yourself for a future relationship. This article mostly my opinion, and is supposed to enhance relationships and help couples (and even friends) approach difficult subject matter in conversation. Sometimes communicating seems impossible with the opposite sex, but I feel the sexes are not as different as we like to believe.
A lot of people forget that relationships are a lot like friendships. A relationship is like a friendship in that mutual love, trust, respect, and proper communication are essential. The added romance and sexuality in the relationship often make it even more intimate and those involved more vulnerable. I hope these tips will help guide you to making your love life (and maybe even your friendships) even better.
"If you find you are only complaining about various topics all day, cut down on the amount of time you spend ruminating on said problems."
1. Stay positive
I'm not saying you should be act like a scary, happy-all-the-time caffeine addict with no problems in life. My point is that nobody likes being around people who complain all the time. Decent friends and significant others are happy to listen to your problems and offer advice, but if that is the only topic of your conversation, your relationship is not fulfilling to them (especially if they rarely, if ever, can talk about their problems or positive things), and you will still feel down.
If you find you are only complaining about various topics all day, cut down on the amount of time you spend ruminating on said problems.
Find other things to think about. Read the newspaper, dive into a hobby, and learn new facts to share with your friends and sweetheart. Focus on the positive aspects of your life with gratitude, and you may even stumble upon something humorous to tell them later. You can even take negative situations and view them in a funny light that both you and your loved ones will appreciate.
2. Compliment frequently and express gratitude.
People, especially significant others, love to feel appreciated. When your friend is wearing a cute outfit, compliment it. If your significant other is looking extra sexy or did something sweet for you, show your appreciation. If you receive a gift, accept it graciously. A simple "thank you" or "you're so good to me" go very far.
3. Affection can be very rewarding for your significant other.
Random kisses, hugs, and back massages are often very appreciated. Some partners are not okay with public displays of affection, so discuss that with them before going out in public.
4. Bringing up certain topics to save your partner/friend from embarrassment can be tricky.
If your partner has bad breath, bring it up gently yet directly. An example would be "honey, did you eat garlic today?" or "Sorry hon, I noticed that your breath has been a little stinkier lately. I use [insert product here] to prevent that." It is courteous for a significant other to have good hygiene around you, so if he/she defends the stench, it is a huge warning sign. The trick here is not to be so subtle that your partner does not know what you are talking about, or does not realize how important it is to correct said problem.
5. It's even harder to tell someone you love that they did something that hurt you.
First, you must tell the person in a timely manner. Absolutely NEVER let it build up and bother you until you explode. Issues like this are like a disease; you must take care of them early on to prevent the most complications. Do not accuse your significant other of anything if you have no solid proof.
If you feel like your partner is avoiding you or ignoring you, say "I feel hurt because I feel like I am being ignored. Did I do something wrong/is something bothering you? Please talk to me." Admit that as a human being, your perceptions are fallible and your partner probably has a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why his/her behavior is "off" to you. Offer to talk about anything that may be bothering your partner, and assert that you love and appreciate him/her and are there to talk whenever.
Sometimes a partner will say something hurtful to you due to lack of tact, insensitivity, lack of information, or accidentally using the wrong word and misrepresenting him/herself. In that case, say "I felt really hurt when you said ____." If he/she is decent, a sincere apology should be voluntarily given after you explain why the comment/action made you feel hurt.
6. Tell your partner when you have messed up in the relationship.
Take full responsibility for your actions, and never accuse your partner of "making" you do it, as your actions are solely yours alone. This goes for big things and little things (yes, including cheating. Telling your partner is the decent thing to do so that he/she can make an informed decision to stay with you or not.)
Do not expect your partner to get over it right away if you messed up badly. He or she may forgive you quickly, but the hurt may linger for weeks or more. Do not criticize the pace of his/her emotional healing process, as that is not something a good human being does.
7. NEVER tell "TMI" (too much information) about previous partners.
For a relationship to be healthy, you should never tell details about your previous exes, especially sexual details. Those will only drive your partner crazy with jealousy, unwanted images, resentment, and a feeling of inadequacy. It in unproductive and unhealthy.
All your partner needs to know about your past is whether or not you have an STD (it is your responsibility to get tested for everything and know your status), whether or not you are/have been married, whether or not you have had children, whether or not you are a virgin, and if you had any casual encounters/used prostitutes/massage parlors(some people do not date those who do that for moral reasons).
Obviously, if you are married, leave the relationship. If you are separated, let your partner know the divorce isn't official yet. You can volunteer that you have been hurt in the past to explain some of your insecurities, but do not go into detail.
If you have broken this rule, set a boundary stating that you will not talk about it again.
8. If you are angry at your partner, or simply had a bad day, and are afraid of saying something you'll regret, take some time to cool off.
Do not dramatically stomp away and refuse your partner's pleas to talk, as this is called the silent treatment/stonewalling, a very hurtful tactic that only destroys relationships. Take a deep breath and simply say "I am very angry right now. I need some time to cool off before I can speak with you rationally. Excuse me" before leaving the room.
9. You always have the right to express your emotions.
Your actions are our own responsibility, but emotions should always be safe to express in a relationship. Never judge your partner, for instance, if he/she cries during a movie.
10. Frequent communication is nice for those in a relationship.
If you cannot see each other every day due to busy schedules or distance, a text or call once a day to say you are thinking about him/her is always nice and appreciated. It does not have to be a 3-hour conversation every night, as that can be way too much for many people and their schedules.