3 Communication Skills That May Improve Your Relationship

Closeup of couple making heart shape with hands

Do you wonder how to improve your relationship, make your relationship last forever, and get past the common roadblocks? Ask any old married couple, and they’ll all give you the same piece of advice: communication is the answer! 

Honest communication is the key to a healthy, happy relationship. Holding your feelings back, biting your tongue when you’re upset, or setting aside your own needs to make your partner happy is a recipe for disaster. 

Yes, it may feel easier to avoid these uncomfortable conversations in the short term, but speaking up will always improve your relationship in the long run. 

Here’s the problem; strong communication skills don’t just come to us naturally. They have to be learned and practiced, just like any other skill. Many of us don’t see these skills modeled by our parents or other couples we know, so when we give it a try, we stumble. 

But everyone has to start somewhere. Here are the three skills that form the bedrock of effective communication in relationships.

1. Active Listening

Have you ever caught yourself zoning out while someone talks, and realize that several minutes have gone by without you really hearing a word of what they’re saying? If so, don’t be ashamed—we’ve all been there! 

Merely being quiet while someone else speaks doesn’t necessarily mean you’re listening, after all. Active listening is an entirely different practice.

Active listening means paying close attention to your partner’s words before jumping to respond. Take it all in and understand the real meaning behind their words. That means no scrolling on your phone, turning off the TV in the background, and eliminating any other distractions. Ask questions that help you dig deeper rather than nodding along and saying, “Uh-huh.” And let your partner know what you’re hearing them say, so you can clear up any miscommunication.

2. Expressing Positive Feelings

Many people think that couples only need to work on their communication skills when they’re going through a rough patch, but this isn’t true. To truly improve your relationship, it’s essential to practice these skills when things are going well, too. 

For example, if you and your partner had a lovely day together, and you want to go on similar dates in the future, tell them.

Sometimes, we miss out on opportunities to tell our partners about all the things they do that make us happiest. People aren’t mind-readers, so if you want a specific behavior to continue, you have to let them know. And be specific about the things they’ve done to make you feel good, rather than using general phrases like, “You were so nice to me today.”

It’s easy to assume that after a long enough time together, your partner has already learned everything there is to know about you. But becoming a better communicator means letting your partner know when you’re feeling especially loving and affectionate towards them.

3. Constructive Criticism

Some people pride themselves on being “brutally honest”—but does honesty always have to be brutal? 

Can we be compassionate, forgiving, and understanding when it comes to our partners, even when we’re unhappy? If you want to foster healthy communication and improve your relationship, the answer has to be yes. 

Even if you’re angry with your partner, you can’t enter a conversation to tear them down and “get back at them.” Instead, concentrate on what you can do to strengthen your connection. 

Constructive criticism is crucial here. Don’t just scold them for what they’ve done wrong. Try to be patient and work together to figure out how you can get back on the same page and make things right. 

Remember, at the end of the day, you two are a team. It’s easy to turn a problem into you vs. your partner when you’re upset, but if you really want to work through the issue, you need to think about it as you and your partner vs. the problem.

Do you feel like you and your partner are struggling to communicate your needs to each other? Click the link or contact us today to discuss couples counseling in San Diego