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Tips for Better Communication with Your Partner

Written by: Hannah Louise Cabrejas, Writer and Workshop Coordinator

Miscommunication is one of the most common barriers in relationships and the origin of many further problems down the line. Below are some methods to better communicate with your partner 

Be Explicit 

It is best to assume that your partner will understand the nuances of what you are trying to express. When communicating with your partner, discuss all the details and distinctions of the situation. Try to spell out the thought process for them because it takes both the listener and the speaker to work towards understanding what the problem or the idea is. 

Let’s say there was an issue regarding your partner not washing the dishes. Don’t stare at the pile of dishes in resentment and wonder why your partner is not cleaning the dishes in the sink. They may not notice this is an issue for you, so bringing up that they need to unload the dishes the next time may be the easiest solution to potential grudges. Our wants and our needs change all the time as we grow, so we cannot expect our partner to follow and understand these changes with us. 

Bidding for Attention 

In an article written by John Gottman (an academic that has spent years working on marriage stability and relationship counseling), he talks about one of the most common ways partners communicate with each other. He demonstrates how people in relationships bid for attention, meaning that people will make comments throughout the day, such as “Look at this photo I found today!”. It may seem like a random thought that can be placed aside, but this comment is your partner’s attempt at gaining one’s attention.  

By ignoring these comments, your partner may begin with ‘Protest Behaviours’. They may get clingy or start arguments in order to bring your attention back to them. Thus, the best response to this is to acknowledge these comments, no matter how asinine they may seem to you, because it isn’t the comment that your partner is attempting to communicate with you, it is the ability for you to engage with each other. So, turn around and look at that photo! 

Self-Awareness 

Finally, sometimes, it’s knowing how one is feeling. Do you know what upsets you and why? Arguments can arise when what you’re saying to your partner doesn’t align with what your thoughts and feelings are about a situation. Learning how to be in touch with your body and mind and knowing what you’re feeling can help you better explain your position when communicating with your partner 

To practice self-awareness, for a few moments a day, stop for a moment and take in how you are experiencing the specific moment. Are you uncomfortable sitting in a chair all day? Are you stressed because your washing machine isn’t working? Why am I upset right now? What would help me deal with this? Once you can understand and label your feelings and where they originate, you can easily explain those feelings back to your partner and now both you and your partner can address the situation clearly.