Communicating For A Better Relationship Nancy'S Counseling Corner

Most of us are pressed for time all the time. If we did everything we are supposed to do—for our health, for our friends and family, for our work—we would have precious little time left over for our partners. But here’s the thing: It’s just as important that we make time to communicate well and often with our significant others. Maybe more.

“Communicating” does not mean “talking.” Sure you let your partner know that you have a meeting and you’ll run late, that the kids’ gymnastic schedule has been changed, that the car needs a tune-up. These are all fundamental bits of information that are essential to keeping a relationship functioning at a rudimentary level. But really communicating well goes beyond that.

If you make it a habit to communicate effectively, you will be able to realize the full joys your relationship has in store for you. Here are some thoughts on how to achieve great communication with your partner.

1) Honesty is the best policy. Most people consider themselves to be fairly honest. The exception is the white lies you tell that are often necessary to keep an even keel. But honesty is critical for a fulfilling relationship. And first you have to be honest with yourself. Dig deep and discover emotions you may have been hiding from your own self. Take the risk of being vulnerable with your partner. You may find the reward is a more intimate, stronger relationship.

2) It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. You might be amazed to discover the signals you send that are completely contrary to the words you speak. These are the nonverbal cues that your partner picks up, sometimes making your body language far more important that the words you speak. Are your arms folded? Are you making eye contact? Are you turning away? And how about your tone of voice? When you say something like, “It’s fine with me,” you can mean all is well, or you can mean the opposite if you lace that sentence with sarcasm. Try to hear yourself and make sure you’re conveying what you mean.

3) Face-to-face time is the best time. Yes, it’s great to keep in touch with your partner through all the convenient technology you have at your fingertips. But it’s also easy to misconstrue a terse text or an e-mail where you can’t see or hear your partner. As we just said, tone of voice and body language are important components of your message. Looking into your partner’s eyes as she’s speaking can tell you a lot more than what she says. Being up close and physical can make a difference.

4) Important topics require rational thinking. It’s essential to be at your straightforward best when discussing subjects critical to your relationship. That means a clear head and a neutral tone will make communicating better—especially when it’s about your kids, your money, your jobs or your relationship. Down-to-earth and practical is best.

5) Listen and hear. When your partner is trying to communicate with you, make sure you hear what he’s trying to say—what he intends in his heart to convey to you. Do not be thinking ahead about how you will respond to him. Do not even be thinking about how you feel about what he’s saying. Just listen, hear, take it in. When he is completely finished talking, try to process what he’s said. When you think you have a good idea, repeat back to him what you heard. When he agrees that what you heard is what he intended to say, you have communicated.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: