Get Communication Savvy

Communicating with your spouse isn’t always easy; things get lost in translation or fights break out. Here, Sharon Rivkin, MA, MFT and author of Breaking the Argument Cycle: How to Stop Fighting Without Therapy tells us how to communicate better in relationships.

Couple having discussion on couch

1


Listen without interrupting.

This is tougher than you might think. Most people don't have good listening skills and get triggered by one word that sets them off to talk about themselves, Rivkin says. Rather than giving into the impulse to talk over your partner, count to five in your head until the urge passes and allow him to finish talking.

2Use "I" statements.

Talk about how something makes you feel, rather than attacking your partner. That way, he doesn't feel like he has to defend himself right out of the gate, which can cause serious friction. By using "I" statements, you can avoid making the relationship's problems all about him if they're not.

3Don't attack your partner.

When you attack your partner, you set up a defensive mode of communicating, which starts to dig a deep hole that's hard to get out of, Rivkin explains. We know it's tempting, especially if you're really angry, but try to avoid attack mode.

4Say what you're thinking.

It's each person's responsibility to communicate how she feels, and not our partner's job to read our minds, guess what we're thinking, or put words in our mouths. So rather than keep things inside in hopes your partner does a good job guessing, be open and honest.

5Play fair.

Avoid shaming, blaming or always needing to be right, Rivkin suggests. "These are huge obstacles to good communication and will guarantee resentment, anger and frustration in the relationship," she says. Instead, take turns talking, and if you don't agree, ask questions and take a time-out if you have to, rather than getting angry and saying something you'll regret.

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Comments

Comments on "How to communicate better with your partner"

Hannah October 30, 2012 | 10:23 AM

Not attacking your spouse is so important, and that goes hand in hand with listening. I think it's vital to make sure your spouse knows that you're on his side and routing for him, instead of nagging him or attacking him.

Emma May 16, 2012 | 3:54 PM

Listening is key to any successful relationship. Men can't read our minds, so we have to communicate clearly for a positive relationship. It is important to use "I" versus "you" to stay away from attacking him. Making it personal and talking about how you feel will help him to better understand what is going on and how you should move forward in the argument or discussion.

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