Couple Talking

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Five Communication Tips for Couples

Couple Communication Talking Close Companions

Tip 1: Know That It's Not About You!*

If your partner is experiencing an issue, it’s their issue, they own it. It’s not about you! Don’t take it personally and get defensive. Try to be fully present yet at the same time take a step back, out of the message, you’ll be able to hear much more clearly. Communication!

Since it’s not about you, you can listen with curiosity and with openness. You can respond with interest, concern, and love.

It’s not about you. If your partner has an issue, it’s theirs to own. Knowing that can make listening easier and more productive.

Tip 2: Know That It's All About You!*

What?! Stay with me. . .

If you’re upset or something triggers you, you get to own it. You get to take responsibility for it and not blame anyone else. Try starting your sentences with “I” instead of “you”. The only person you can speak for is yourself. Realize that there are facts in every situation. A fact is something known to exist or to have happened. Generally, we can’t control the facts – they simply are.

But what we can control is how we interpret and react to the facts. And this is where it’s all about you – you have a choice about the story you tell yourself about the facts. Stories are made up. Facts are real.

Tip 3: Realize That an Issue is an Unmet Need*

If you have an issue, chances are it’s because you need something that you’re not getting. What do you need? Is it something your partner can and will fulfill? How will you know if you don’t let him or her know what it is you need?

Assertiveness is asking for what you need. It’s not aggression, it’s not entitlement, it’s not selfishness. When you can simply ask for what you need, you stand a better chance of having that need met.

Most of the time, we don’t even know what we need. We only know the emotions and feelings that crop up around the issue.

The best thing you can do for yourself, for your partner, and for your relationship is to
b-r-e-a-t-h-e and look inward. Become self-aware of what’s going on inside of you. What do you need? Once we’re clear about that, it’s much easier to make a request of our partner without complaining, whining, or blaming.

Tip 4: Communication - Listen to the Message and Ask for More

It’s human nature to “listen” by internally crafting our counterpoint to whatever it is our partner is saying. We might be “listening”, but we’re definitely not “hearing.”

“Hearing” our partner involves coming to understand his or her point of view, even if we don’t share the same point of view. Even if we don’t agree. Hearing involves understanding the message they’re sending us through their words, tone of voice, body language, facial expressions, etc.

When we’re listening well, we’re putting aside our own thoughts, feelings, and opinions. We’re tuned in to what our partner is truly saying. And we’re also paying attention to what our partner is not saying.

Generally, what our partner is sharing with us is the tip of the iceberg – it’s what they are conscious of. If we’re fully present, listening with our hearts as well as ears, three simple words can encourage our partner to share more deeply – even things that they might not yet be conscious of.

And there’s where the true magic of communication is.

Three words, spoken with love, can open up a whole new level of communication between you and your partner: “Is there more?”

These three words communicate that we care, that we’re interested, and that we value what’s going on for our partner. We’re not only listening but we’re also hearing.

Tip 5: Accept What You Can and Cannot Change

When something is labeled “as is”, it means that there’s a flaw of some kind and you can “take it or leave it” – but what you see is what you get.

Do you want to be loved by your partner “as is”? Loved and accepted for who you are, flaws and all? Are you able to give the same gift of acceptance to your partner?

We can’t be partially accepted – we’re not a buffet where we can pick and choose the things we like and leave the rest behind. True acceptance is an all-or-nothing bargain.

Your partner isn’t a project that begs for completion. This special person is a living, growing, constantly evolving being, worthy of your respect and kindness.

Your partner doesn’t need your criticism and dissatisfaction. He or she needs your love and acceptance.

The only way to experience true intimacy and connection is to communicate to each other “I love you and accept you just the way you are.”


*adapted from David Steele, Relationship Coaching Institute

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