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  • Writer's pictureKeri Pinelli

13. Healthy Communication Skills for Couples

Healthy communication is one of the fundamental building blocks for maintaining a strong relationship. Often, communication errors between couples can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts and even estrangement if these issues are not addressed. Effective communication is not always easy. It requires effort, understanding and patience. Here are some tips to help foster healthy communication within the couple relationship:

  1. Active Listening: This requires listening to your partner without interrupting or preparing your response. It means paying full attention and giving feedback when needed to show you’re engaged.

  2. Being Open and Honest: Sometimes one of the hardest skills for people is being honest about their feelings. Open communication is about sharing your thoughts and feelings with your partner, without the fear of judgment.

  3. Avoiding the Blame Game: Accusations can put people on the defense. Using “I” statements instead of “You” statements can help you own your feelings. For example “I feel hurt when you don’t ask me how my day is” instead of “you never care about my day”.

  4. Stay Calm and Take Time Outs: Always strive to remain calm during discussions. When emotions are running high, it is ok to take a time out, collect yourself and return to the conversation when you feel more regulated.

  5. Practice Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Try to understand and respect your partner’s point of view. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with it, but it shows you are concerned about their feelings and opinions.

  6. Take Responsibility: Take ownership of your part of the problem or issue. It is not about who is “right” or “wrong”, it is about solving the problem.

  7. Avoid the “Silent Treatment”: As mentioned above, it is ok to take a time out to calm down, but make sure you communicate that to your partner and come back to the conversation later. Ignoring your partner is not helpful, it is hurtful.

  8. Limit Distractions: Especially today when distractions are literally at our fingertips, it is important to turn off the TV and put down the phone when discussing important issues.

  9. Choose the Right Time: If one of you is stressed, tired, or otherwise occupied, it might not be the best time for a serious conversation. Acknowledging this and scheduling a time to talk later would be a better option.

  10. Have Regular Check-Ins: Set aside time to regularly discuss your relationship, feelings and issues that arise. This special time for communicating is separate from the day-to-day communication about “what’s for dinner” and “do we have plans this weekend”.

  11. Practice Forgiveness: Nobody is perfect. Understanding and forgiveness can go a long way in repairing and strengthening a relationship.

  12. Avoid Brining Up the Past: Rehashing past mistakes or grievances can derail a productive conversation. Focus on the present and the current issues at hand.

  13. Know When to Seek Help: If you and your partner are struggling with communication, it might be helpful to seek couples therapy to work through some of the issues and practice new communications skills.

Remember that healthy communication is a skill that takes practice and two willing participants. The more effort you put into it, the stronger and more resilient your relationship will be.

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