Why didn’t anybody ever mention that romantic relationships and marriage would be so hard?
Actually, they probably did! But as a young person, newly in love, most of us tend to overlook those comments as "bitter" or assume they don't apply to us.
But every couple has struggles, and every couple argues. It’s just human nature. This is especially true after you have been together for some time and when you are encountering a major life change, like a new baby, an empty nest, or retirement. The challenge is to grow and change together rather than apart.
One of the best ways to do this is to take a look at the way you communicate with each other. There are a number of things related to how we communicate that most of us just aren’t very good at – because we haven’t been taught how to be good at them.
Below are four tips on how to have more positive interactions with your partner.
- Understand the difference between intent and delivery. We all say things that we aren’t exactly proud of, and we often say things in a way that doesn’t reflect exactly how we meant them. This is hard to recover from in a relationship, because when we open ourselves up emotionally, poorly chosen words can hurt a lot. But you have to be patient with each other, and learn to hear the meaning behind the words – and not necessarily the delivery of the specific words themselves.
- Remember that opposites attract. And it’s a good thing! Nobody wants to be exactly alike – that would be boring. We tend to forget this, though, when we’re staring down our partner for thinking differently. There is often a happy medium sitting somewhere in the middle of a fight, if only you choose to talk about it and acknowledge it, rather than assuming your way is the right way. Remember that one of the best things about a long term relationship is that your partner provides you with the opportunity to continually grow and evolve as a person.
- Ask questions. Often, we assume our partners or spouses feel exactly as we do. But in doing so, we neglect truly understanding and honoring them. When differences arise, try asking questions so you fully understand where your partner is coming from before you pass judgment or start fighting. Not only does this get to the root of the issue, but it also makes the other person feel heard, which shuts down quite a few fights before they ever leave the ground.
- Be vulnerable and actually talk to one another. The thing about communication is that it has nothing to do with the number of words you say. It requires talking about your feelings, making your positions known, and sometimes feeling totally vulnerable because you’re putting yourself out there. Communication is the biggest healer for a relationship, but it starts with you being willing to be vulnerable.