11 Tips for Communicating with Your Partner

Sure, you and your partner talk to each other. But was that argument about whose turn it was to buy milk really an example of effective communication? Here are some tips to help you move from "gabbing" to really connecting through your conversations.

1. Realize that no one "wins" an argument. If you don't leave a discussion with a possible solution to the problem, then neither party has been successful.

2. Compromise is an essential tool to solving problems through communication. Before bringing up a problem, make sure you have thought of ways that you can help solve it by mutual compromise.

3. Try to be positive when bringing up sensitive marital problems. Instead of jumping right into a discussion, open by acknowledging that every partnership could be improved and that you'd like to take some time to discuss both the things that are working in your relationship and the areas that could use improvement. It helps to start by talking about positive things and then moving into the deeper discussion on problem areas.

4. Be a "reflective" listener and make sure you understand what your partner has said. Use the phrase, "What I hear you saying is ..." to make sure the proper message has been received.

5. Feel free to use the "time out" card if the discussion gets too intense. If an argument gets heated and irrational, it is better to postpone the discussion to a time and place where effective communication can happen.

6. Make sure your body language, facial expressions and vocal tone are in line with your message. 7. Don't be cryptic because you're afraid to bring up the real issue. If you enter a conversation insecure about making your point, you probably won't make it.8. If you can't come up with a definitive solution, at least try to end the conversation on a positive note. Say something like, "I think it's good we've both shared our feelings and we'll continue to talk about it and try to come up with a better solution." 9. Don't ever be rude or talk down to your partner in a discussion about your relationship. Avoid dismissing any ideas or thoughts as absurd. Instead, listen to your partner's point, then react in a respectful manner with the reasons you disagree.10. Don't be sidetracked by tangents. If you sit down to talk about a financial problem and suddenly find that other emotional issues are coming up, you may need to focus on one area at a time in order to create solutions instead of merely bickering. 11. Realize when you need outside help to communicate effectively. A counselor or marriage retreat may help solve what seems to be an impossible communication problem.
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