Good communication skills are the keys to any successful relationship because relationships are emotional and rely on interpersonal verbal and nonverbal exchanges between the two people involved. Most marriages start out with the idea of success not realizing the number one cause of divorce is bad communication. In cases of parenting and co-parenting, communication is even more important because the parents are raising children who will become adults. Kids learn their first communication techniques from their parents or guardians. There are three types of communications: verbal, nonverbal, and written. Below are the top 10 effective communication techniques for couples. This list was derived from Meta research of many lists from the internet, books, interviews and this author’s past experience.
1. Do not talk at the same time – listen!
This may seem obvious but when emotions are running high, each person wants to get their point across and a subliminal power struggle comes into play signifying that no one is really interested in the conversation or resolution. Please do not interrupt each other. Constant interruption is stating you do not think the other person has anything important to say and that you just want your way. The reason for the conversation is to hear each other’s point of view. Resist the urge to interrupt.
2. Think before you speak or you will regret it
“Give me the gift of a listening heart.” – said King Solomon. You may say something that can’t be taken back, ever. If talking in person is just impossible, try written communication but please stay off the internet. You are communicating personal feelings to each other. Text each other in short sentences. Write a letter or note. However, real time communication is better. NO CAPS please. Typing in all caps gives the impression you are shouting. I LOVE YOU is permitted. Remember, you do love each other.
3. Give a hoot – care
When communicating with your spouse or partner, it is so important to not lose sight that the communication is to make the relationship bond tighter not break up. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Try to understand why they may feel the way they do. Do they have all the facts? Are they just wanting attention from you? Regardless, treat their feelings as if they are important.
For example, if your partner expresses concern about not getting invited to a social event that was important to them. You on the other hand think the whole thing is silly. Restrain from expressing your thoughts and empathize with your partner. “I know this was important to you but let’s try to find out why we were not invited so that we can get invited to the next event or one similar.” It may never happen but your partner will love you for that. It’s the little things that count.
4. No hitting below the belt
Please watch your language. One of the things that will terminate effective communication is name calling or bringing up something that happened a long time ago. Especially, a situation that was resolved or forgiven. Please try to avoid the words “you” and “you always.” These words will surely take your conversation in a negative direction. Try calling your partner’s first name lovingly instead. This technique dilutes anger. It changes the tone of the conversation.
5. Facts please
A general rule among long time married couples is, you can ask about it but if you can’t prove it then you have to let it go. In other words, if there is no proof, don’t bring it to the table. Suspicion is one thing but to accuse someone of it, is another matter. Many partners get tired of being accused of cheating. Many cheaters claim that they were accused of cheating all the time, so they decided to actually do it. It’s normal to be a little jealous when it comes to the love of your life but it is not normal to express it every time you feel it. Investigating discreetly is permitted but not accusing without being sure.
6. Participate with sincerity and honesty
A conversation is between two people. Silent treatment is not permitted. The opposite of love is not hate but indifference. When your partner is talking to you, talk back without any hidden motives. Communicate with transparency and honesty. Ask questions for clarity. If you are busy, ask for a time when it is better for the both of you. Do not just walk out the door or listen and not respond. Remember you are in this relationship together.
One way to communicate is to hear what your partner is not saying. Two people in a relationship get to learn each other fears, goals, values and dreams. No one should know your partner better than you, therefore, use that to your advantage and observe the situation. Some people are better at expressing themselves or communicating better than others. For example, Rita knew her husband, an advertising executive, wanted a new look. He had gained a few pounds so she thought he was self-conscious about it. She thought he wanted to be more attractive for her but after watching him look for clothes online, she realized he wanted a new look because he thought his style dated him and put him at a competitive disadvantage at work with his younger co-workers. It had nothing to do with their relationship. Rita hired a career stylist that solved her husband’s problem.
8. Body language is a non-verbal communication technique
Even though body language is a thing to be observed, it speaks loudly. When your spouse is speaking, looking at him or her in the eyes means your partner has your undivided attention. Leaning forward, means you are interested in what they are saying, diverting eye contact is an indication of dishonesty. Learn your partner’s body language. For example, Michael learned that Lisa had different walks for each of her moods. There was a walk when she was busy, there was one when she was angry, and a totally different walk when she was relaxed. Michael is often tuned into her body language to detect her mood and to pick a good time to talk to her. When communicating with your partner do not ignore their body language because that is how you can determine if they are understanding you, agreeing, or disagreeing.
9. Respect – agree to disagree
Never lose sight of the fact that you two are on the same team and there is no reason to degrade each other or fight because there will always be another issue down the road. Couples who learn to solve problems together are the most successful. Every problem will not be solvable because you and your partner are individuals who will have different opinions from time to time. Realize the relationship is bigger than any problem. In addition, respect your partner by being a confidant who can be depended upon. Sherry and her husband Mike of ten years never agree on political candidates. It was a bit like sports and they were rooting for opposing teams. However, at the end of an election, they were always on the same team regardless of political issues.
10. Witnesses or third party intervention
Many couples seek counseling, a trusted friend or a family member to play a neutral party in an important decision. This is not a bad idea. A third person may bring a different perspective to the situation. Just be sure the person is a confidant and has the qualifications to help you with the problem. For example, Janet wanted her husband to be a little less traditional. He was very old-fashioned in his ideas of women’s roles in marriage. He never washed a dish or did any housework. Janet worked. She and Bob just had a new baby. Janet felt she needed more help from Bob. He did not agree. Janet went to Bob’s father for assistance. He talked with Bob and shared his own experiences of shifting his views of the role of a man in the family. Afterward, Bob started helping out.
In conclusion, effective communication is one of the top skills couples can learn to improve their relationship or marriage. These interpersonal communication skills are verbal, nonverbal, and written communication. Among the top 10 effective communication techniques for couples are listening, fighting fair, getting the facts, caring, honesty, respecting, observing, obtaining third party interventions and active participation.
Author Bio: Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.