Communication isn’t perfect: Reminders to help couples keep their relationships healthy

dr-jane-rosen-grandon-small.jpLove, like many things in life, always seems easier at the beginning. When a relationship is new, it’s easy to feel connected and supported, but as our affection progresses, it is easy to become less thoughtful of each other’s feelings. One key to maintaining a healthy relationship is to encourage effective and clear communication, which can be difficult. Below are some common communication challenges to keep in mind so that you and your significant other can have a better, more open relationship.

Communication can be elusive
Ask anyone what he or she wants in a partner and you’re sure to hear “better communication.” When couples fall in love, they often attribute it to their ability to talk about anything and everything. When couples fall out of love, it’s because they can’t seem to talk about anything anymore. Make communicating with your loved one a priority. Take the time at least once a day to share something personal with each other. No television. No social networks. No distractions. Give one another your undivided attention.

Communication can be difficult
Humans are a sensitive lot. We long for validation yet hate criticism. We’re acutely cautious at the start of relationships, opening up slowly and carefully and quickly recoiling at the slightest hint of danger. It’s a difficult conundrum. On one hand, we want to share our private self with people. On the other hand, we’re afraid of being hurt. Maintain an attitude of support and affection by exchanging kind words; after all, doesn’t everyone deserve to feel good? Be sure to compliment your mate at least once a day.

Communication can get lost
Many people forget that communication is made up of more than words. It’s easy to ineffectively share our emotions or misinterpret our partner’s messages when we aren’t deliberate about the way we give and receive information. Pay attention to visual cues like facial expressions and body language. Watch for affirmation and a sense of understanding. If you think that your partner may not have understood, double back and clarify your message. It’s better to be redundant than to cause unnecessary harm. As a listener, give your partner your attention. Make eye contact where needed and show them that you are listening. Give them verbal and visual cues of understanding, like nodding. If you don’t understand their meaning, get more information.

Communication can be hurtful
Even after knowing someone for years, it is easy communicate carelessly and hurt one another’s feelings. Think before you speak, especially if you are emotional. Take time to cool off and think about your feelings. Quick, angry retorts may feel good at the moment, but can cause lasting damage in a relationship. It’s better to understand why you are upset so you can share with your partner in an effective, non-aggressive way.

Remember, love is a physical and emotional relationship that must be nurtured every day. Saying words like “I love you,” affirms our connection, our commitment to the relationship and helps us focus our emotional energy toward staying in love for years and years. Love is not an achievement. It requires constant communication that allows both partners to thrive individually and as a team.