There are a great number of factors that are involved in building a healthy relationship, especially when it comes to partnerships. Some factors are more important than others, and one of the most cited ones is communication. Some even go so far as to claim that it may even be the single most important part of a relationship.
But why is communication important in a relationship? Some may argue that other factors, particularly connection, are most important for a fully functional relationship. While other factors such as connection are definitely important, they do not negate the significance of having healthy communication in relationships. Just as healthy communication can bolster a partnership, poor communication skills can potentially damage one.
Communicating Through Difficult Times
The need for good communication skills becomes even more important when relationships go through difficult times, which all relationships will have to endure at one point or another. Some examples of difficult times include:
- One or both partners suffering from addiction
- Financial strain
- Death of a loved one
- Long-distance relationships
Some people might inquire, “Are long-distance relationships healthy?” When your relationship is able to employ solid communication skills, it will have a much better chance of emerging stronger than before, no matter what kind of situation you find yourself in.
What is healthy communication? Simply put, healthy communication occurs when you and your partner are able to convey your wants, emotions, and needs in a beneficial, constructive manner. Healthy communication involves not only conveying information to one another but also receiving it in a non-confrontational manner.
However, this is easier said than done. Healthy communication skills don’t appear overnight, but there are several key parts to developing good communication skills within your relationship.
Lay Aside Defensiveness and Take Responsibility
The first key is to lay aside any defensiveness you may have and be willing to take responsibility for our own part in the relationship. In some cases, discussions that could be constructive and beneficial end up going over poorly due to one or both partners becoming defensive and either actively seek to justify their behavior or shift the blame onto others.
This requires you to constantly self-reflect over your own behavior and identify when you are angry or choosing to harbor negativity within the conversation.
Actively Seek It Out
The second key to healthy communication is to actively seek it out. If you are not constantly trying to improve your communication skills, you won’t be able to achieve healthy communication in your relationship.
Examples of Healthy Communication Skills
No matter how well you know or love your partner, you are going to need to learn how to communicate clearly in order to avoid misunderstandings. As it takes two people to communicate, having communication skills will allow you to better understand one another.
We’ve listed below a number of skills that you should strive to employ in your relationship.
When you begin a conversation within your relationship, be sure to:
- Think about what you want to say beforehand
- Be clear about what you wish to communicate
- Accept responsibility for your feelings
- Speak in a calm, positive tone
- Use assertive “I feel” and “I want” statements
- Ask for feedback
Non-verbal communication skills can be just as important as verbal ones. When you begin a discussion:
- Be aware of your body position and your facial expression
- Endeavor to be calm and relaxed during the interaction
- Have your body language match your tone of voice
- Sit or stand at the same level as the other person
Remember, communication isn’t just about conveying information, it also deals with how you receive information. During a conversation you should:
- Allow the other person to speak without interruption
- Show genuine interest
- Mute your phone or other communication devices to avoid distraction
How to Improve Communication Skills with Your Partner
Healthy communication skills can be learned; however, some people may find it difficult to develop these skills. Luckily, there are things that you can do to help yourself learn.
The first is to remain positive. Communication skills take time to develop, so don’t get discouraged if you or your partner make a mistake. Be positive and encouraging in all of your interactions.
You can learn more about healthy communication in relationships by consulting a therapist or counselor. You can also learn more in our article on how to improve communication skills.