20 Ways To Have More Healthy, Open Communication in a Relationship

Jess Richardson | Oct 29, 2019 Love & Sex
20 Ways To Have More Healthy, Open Communication in a Relationship
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20 Ways To Have More Healthy, Open Dialogue in A Relationship

We all know that when it comes to making our relationships healthier and stronger, the key to absolutely everything is communication. When we are open with our partners, we can actually be heard and start having our needs met in new ways. And when we also truly listen to our partners -- really listen to them, rather than anticipating what we think we're going to hear, despite what they are actually saying -- good things happen. Increasing our ability to communicate effectively leads to greater harmony in our households, greater understanding between us and our partners, and greater peace in our hearts. It is the best way to a healthy, happy, relationship -- although we recognize it's not always easy. When subjects come up that are emotional, having an open dialogue can be difficult. But it's worth working on, and these tips can help us get started. 

While this guide may help in opening up in a relationship and improving communication day-to-day -- which absolutely impacts how we discuss everything from small changes to big decisions made for the family -- we also believe it's a good idea to have special relationship advice on hand for those big moments in life. If this describes a situation that sounds familiar, check out ways to have that big relationship talk. It's also worth recognizing that relationships change a lot after having kids. Communication can help improve empathy between partners, and so can acceptance of some changes. We can feel connected by knowing what other moms say about the ways their relationships have changed since having kids. While most celebrity gossip won't help our relationships, sometimes celebs do offer some useful marriage tips. And for anyone looking to really learn some great communication skills and practice them in a safe, shared setting, check some stories about how couples counseling saved a relationship.

  • Always Talk About Important Things Face to Face

    Always Talk About Important Things Face To Face

    It can be so tempting to text each other about important stuff, but it's really a great way to get into an argument. It's impossible to understand tone over text, and it's really easy to read into an innocent comment some kind of mean intention that isn't there. 

  • Use Those 'I Statements'

    Use Those

    It can be really tempting to blame our partner when we're feeling hurt, attacked, or neglected. Instead of saying "You did this," but try saying "I feel [this way] because [reasons] when [this action/inaction occurs]."

  • Offer Solutions

    Offer Solutions

    It's always easier to make a complaint than to offer a solution, but in a relationship, it's important to avoid just complaining. Often, our partners want to make us happy, but don't know how. Be open about desires by saying directly, "Here's what I need," and then explaining what would make the situation better.

  • Practice Mirroring 

    Practice Mirroring

    The mirroring technique is when we try to listen to our partner's concerns and issues, and instead of getting defensive, we try to really hear them. We show them we're listening by repeating back what we hear and interpret. For instance, if they say, "I feel like you're always stepping on my toes when we talk," we can say in reply, "What I hear you saying is that you don't want me to interrupt you as much."

  • Validate Their Concerns

    Validate Their Concerns

    No, we don't mean a partner's concerns need to be validated if they're, say, worried about an upcoming zombie apocalypse. But if they've expressed they want us to listen better, for instance, we can say, "I'm beginning to understand how frustrating it is for you when I don't listen that well."

  • Empathize With Their Emotions

    Empathize With Their Emotions

    Whether or not we can understand logically why our partner feels they way they do, it doesn't really matter. We can always empathize with the fact that they're feeling bad -- and that we want them to feel better. For instance, we can say, "I can totally understand how it must feel when you aren't given room to speak."

  • Ask 'How's Your Day?' Every. Single. Day.


    Sometimes we forget to check in with each other, and that's OK -- it happens in every relationship. But in order to build more healthy dialogue, knowing where the other person is emotionally is always helpful. 

  • Ask Instead of Assuming

    Ask Instead of Assuming

    It's so easy to assume the worst in our partner -- especially if our past relationships or relationships with our parents have been difficult. Instead of assuming bad intention, though, ask them directly what they're thinking and intending -- it's almost always better than we think. 

  • Avoid Small Criticisms

    Avoid Small Criticisms

    Nitpicking is a great way to get our partner to feel like they can't be open around us. It's important for us to pick our battles. Hate the way our partner laughs on the phone? Who cares. It's not worth making anyone feel self-conscious over. We should be honest with our partners, but that doesn't mean being unkind.

  • Preempt Fights by Checking In

    Preempt Fights By Checking In

    Sometimes we end up in fights where a lot of old baggage comes out because we haven't had the space to let ourselves talking about them earlier when they were smaller concerns. Simply checking in on a regular basis, asking our partner how they feel about the relationship, and if they have anything they want to talk about can go a long way. 

  • Be Positive About Change

    Be Positive About Change

    Even if it feels like we've been stuck in a rut or that our partner is too entrenched in their habits to make changes, we have to face the situation with a positive attitude, or we won't get anywhere -- it's absolutely critical. 

  • Check In Ahead of a Stressful Moment

    Check In Ahead Of A Stressful Moment

    Sure, we can't always know a stressful time is coming up -- someone gets laid off or a kid breaks his arm -- but sometimes we know it's coming. If a visit from the in-laws is imminent, sit down, talk about feelings, and make a plan before it happens. 

  • Express Gratitude

    Express Gratitude

    We all know to say "thank you" when someone has done us a huge favor or bought us a big present. But expressing gratitude for the little things -- a cup of coffee in the morning, a hug when we're down -- makes us feel connected and strengthens our relationship, too. 

  • Talk About Sexual Desires

    Talk About Sexual Desires

    Yes, it can be intimidating. Yes, it may be best done after a glass or two of wine. But our partners aren't just our life partners, they're our sexual partners, and we will be happier and more fulfilled with them -- and they with us. Discussing what we desire can bring us closer together, even if we don't end up fulfilling all of the fantasies we talk about. 

  • Be Open During Sex, Too

    Be Open During Sex, Too

    Yes, it can feel embarrassing to tell our partners what to do, even if we've been with them for a long time. But showing them what we like -- or even just what we're into at the moment -- feels really great for both of us, too. 

  • Choose Good Timing

    Choose Good Timing

    When we're frustrated, we can often say things we don't really mean -- or at least phrase what we do mean in ways that are unkind to someone we love. Instead, it's OK to take a few minutes, hours, or even days, take some breaths, and reframe what we want to say in a kind way. 

  • Give Each Other Compliments

    Give Each Other Compliments

    For anyone in a rough patch especially, make it a point to find something to compliment each other on each day. This can be an outfit, a parenting skill, a body part ... it really doesn't matter, as long as it's sincere. 

  • Be Honest, But Kind

    Be Honest -- But Kind

    Yes, we may sometimes want to tell our partner that their mom is invasive and mean and we hate her, but it's better to communicate that we're frustrated while still being kind. Discuss the kinds of boundaries that would make the situation more comfortable rather than going on the attack. 

  • Flirt About Each Other's Dreams

    Flirt About Each Other's Dreams

    Remember how neat it is to get to know someone and ask them about their hopes and dreams? Carve out some time to keep that aspect of the romance alive. Dreams may change, new ones may pop up, and it's always good to be abreast of what our partner really desires.

  • Make Sure the Body Language Is On Point

    Make Sure The Body Language Is On Point

    When we're feeling defensive, it can be natural for us to want to cross our arms and hide behind our hair. But that isn't a way that will make our partner feel comfortable, like we're really ready to be open with them. Sit or stand in a way that's open, or even hold hands while discussing difficult issues. 

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