For busy couples who can’t seem to slow down long enough to connect with each other, we’ve put together a short list of tips to help you communicate better with your partner. These are simple things you can start today, in the midst of managing your full and busy life.
Take a moment to figure out where your communication is lacking. For example, are your phones too much of a distraction? Perhaps suggesting a “no phone zone” could be a quick fix. For 10 minutes each day, put your phones away or on silent, and use that time to connect with each other. You’d be surprised at how much ground you can cover in a short amount of time.
If you implement a solution like the phone example above, now it’s time to commit! Breaking old habits isn’t easy, but it’s possible. Make daily talk time a goal, and write it in your calendar or planner. Set a reminder on your phone. Do whatever it takes to start building consistency with talking to your partner on a daily basis.
If things have been stale for a while, asking questions is a great way to get fresh conversations going. You can ask each other things like, “What was the best part of your day today?” Or, “What’s new in your world?” If your goal is to see different results, switch things up from how you typically communicate.
In my own marriage, I’ve learned to appreciate the word “please.” Asking my husband to please take out the trash or give the kids a bath has made a world of difference in how we communicate. Using my manners (and being sincere about it) is a simple way to show my respect for him. When he feels respected, the door to healthy communication between us is instantly unlocked.
Expressing thanks is another simple, yet highly effective way to improve communication at home. A genuine thank you for things large and small can go a long way. “Thank you for loving me the way you do” or “Thank you for trying to cheer me up after that crazy day I had last week” are examples of ways to express your gratitude. Thank-you statements let your partner know you value them and don’t take them for granted. Doing this on a regular basis can shift the climate between you both from chilly to warm in no time.
When we listen to learn and not just respond, things can change dramatically. Why? Because when we listen to our partners, it makes them feel seen. When we feel seen, we feel safe. This leads to increased vulnerability, which allows for greater intimacy. Yep! All of that can come from listening quietly and patiently as often as you can. Think about it. Wouldn’t you share more when you know you’ll be heard?
This may seem obvious in a post about communication, but if you want to experience better communication, you have to be willing to share! If you see your partner trying to strike up a conversation, honor his or her effort by being responsive. Your partner is not a mind reader, so it helps a lot when you say what’s on your mind and open up a little more.
Stopping to see things from your partner’s perspective can increase clarity between you and reduce misunderstandings. Asking questions also encourages clarity. For example, if your wife was short with you after work, you could ask, “You were a little short with me earlier. Did I do something to upset you, or did you have a bad day?” She gets to explain, you get to listen, and you both get a chance to discuss it and move on.
Eye contact is one of the most powerful aspects of nonverbal communication. Nothing can boost someone’s confidence more than when you look them in the eye to show that you’re present, you’re listening and you care. This is true in times of chemistry and in conflict.
Everything we’ve outlined here takes practice. You may not get it right on the first try and that’s totally OK! Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate changes. Keep trying, be patient and enjoy the process, knowing that a healthier relationship is the end game.
These steps might not fix all of the broken communication patterns in your relationship, but we hope it will give you a starting point to find ways to connect more authentically. It’s all worth the effort to create an atmosphere of positive, healthy communication between you and the one you love.