In this article I will teach you how to improve communication in your relationship by learning how to discuss your vulnerabilities, how to set boundaries, how to listen to criticism and how to apologise.
A great amount of suffering could be avoided if we could be more like children. Unfortunately, relationships are not simple and there are issues that need to be discussed, not ignored.
Speaking wisely about most difficult subjects is an important trait that most people don’t have. Clarifying, asking questions and discussing sensitive issues are often dropped or if spoken, they are not heard.
Conflicts and fights bring only pain in your relationship and no opportunity to get close with your partner.
Sometimes voicing your thoughts and feelings can make it less likely for the other person to really hear and understand what you are trying to communicate.
When you deal with a difficult situation or person, you need to use a strategy for communication and learn how to take wise decision about how, when and what to say.
However, feeling insulted, angry, hurt, frustrated or desperate makes people react spontaneous and communicate in a way their message is not heard and understood.
Understanding the stages of love
“Falling out of love is chiefly a matter of forgetting how charming someone is.”- Iris Murdoch
When people are in love, their differences are exciting and bring passion and deep feelings to their relationship. They ignore red flags, convinced their love will eliminate any problem these differences might bring to their relationship.
The infatuation stage makes people blind to real and potential issues and problems. However, this stage can’t last forever and it is usually determined by your levels of endorphins in our body. Read more about the 3 stages of love here.
Having ended the infatuation stage, you observe more and more things that you don’t like about your partner. Behaviours that you wouldn’t consider a problem before are starting to question your relationship.
“The strongest love is the love that can demonstrate its fragility.”- Paulo Coelho
When you discuss your vulnerabilities with your partner, it is important to trust that they will not deny, minimise your pain or use the sensitive information against you.
Lacking trust to share feelings in relationships can lead to a choice of staying silent and pretending everything is okay. Silence protects from fear or anxiety regarding your partner’s reaction, but long term will lead to loneliness or resentment.
Vulnerabilities cannot be denied without denying your capability for joy and intimacy. Hiding your own vulnerabilities in order to protect your partner, will bring more pain to both of you than being honest about how you feel.
When people are hurt, they respond with either anger or silence. Having a clam attitude whilst expressing exactly what you want to say can help you get your point across easier.
However, as good as it sounds, this is one of the hardest thing to achieve. When emotions are high, people become critical, defensive and reactive.
”When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated.”- Brene Brown
Clarifying your own boundaries with your partner is important for effective communication in the relationship. This preserves your own well-being and integrity.
The first essential step in clarifying your own limits with your partner is self-knowledge. It is important to know exactly what you want and how much you are willing to compromise for the relationship.
Self-knowledge should be re-evaluated and changed according to what you experience in life. You can re-evaluate and change your limits and desires anytime it is necessary for yourself or for your relationship.
Only when you are clear in your mind and heart about your position, you can find the courage to speak and challenge your partner.
When your pain of staying in the current situation becomes greater than leaving the relationship, only then you can speak your mind without reservations, fear or anxiety regarding your partner’s reaction.
Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t work as it might be too late to reconstruct yourself in the relationship and ultimately choose to leave.
If properly discussed with your partner instead of avoided, your honest contemplation about leaving the relationship could improve and bring the necessary changes to your relationship before it is too late.
Refraining from criticism
”People tend to criticise their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need.”- Gary Chapman
No one values criticism that doesn’t come from a place of love and respect.
When partners are angry in the couple, they find it hard to be their best self and they believe the solution is for the other person to change.
Refraining from criticism and bringing a positive attitude in the relationship can determine more change than criticism will ever do.
Defensiveness is as damaging for the relationship as criticism is. It is a reactionary response that implies your partner is to blame. It comes from a place of lack of listening and understanding your partner.
By deciding not to change yourself, you will keep the relationship in the same place or you will bring it in a worse place.
It is hard to feel empathy and have positive feelings towards your partner when you believe they are in the wrong. However, by forcing yourself to do so you will create change and bring more positivity in your relationship.
Preventing negativity to get out of control is the key to a successful relationship. It is easy to find yourself in a continuous blaming cycle and it is hard to find the means to break the cycle.
When people are angry and resentful towards their partner, they stop trying to make any effort to make them happy.
Moreover, the longer couples are together, the more they forget to work on their relationship and establish a loving connection.
Start re-thinking what your partner wants and desires to be happy, what gestures warm their heart and what will break the blaming cycle.
It is extremely difficult to listen to your partner when you are being accused for their pain. You are looking for inaccuracies and exaggerations in order to defend yourself from the criticism.
In order to change the blaming cycle, you need to listen to them without judging and without the intent to reply.
“Apologies aren’t meant to change the past, they are meant to change the future.”– Kevin Hancock
An apology is not only beneficial for the receiver. Apologising can restore a sense of well-being and integrity for the person who was in the wrong.
When you fight with your partner and they apologise, what counts the most is the behaviour that follows.
An apology can be easily forgotten if after the apology you engage in the same behaviour. It is important after the apology to do whatever it is necessary to rebuild trust.
Arguments are never solved between couples when the behaviour of the partner that was in the wrong remains unchanged.
I hope this article taught you how to improve the communication in your relationship. Learning to communicate difficult feelings, expressing your vulnerabilities, setting boundaries, accepting criticism and apologising are the cornerstone of healthy relationships.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to answer them.
All the best,
(Accredited Counsellors, Coaches, Psychotherapists and Hypnotherapists)
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