If you’re reading this, chances are you’re like every couple that comes to couples therapy to find ways to improve communication in your relationship. Or maybe you just want to take things to the next level in your relationship. Maybe you’re spending less time with each other and you’ve grown apart. Or maybe all you seem to do is argue these days.

All relationships go through ups and downs. No matter the good intentions of the individual or how in love you were when the relationship began, it’s completely natural for every relationship to go through rough patches. In fact, it can be a good thing. Because through pain we grow – if we choose to. ????

Just as you need to break down muscle to build it up stronger than it was before, many relationships can be strengthened by challenges, provided your communication is healthy.

Ways to improve communication in your relationships:

1. Recognize the change

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Don’t ignore the problem. This will only make it worse.

Be honest with yourself and your partner that something isn’t working. Refusal to accept the reality of a situation because you don’t like it, only leads to further emotional consequences.

You may also need to recognize that each of you has changed over the years. None of us stays the same. Our wants, needs, passions, annoyances etc. change as we mature and grow as people. It’s much easier to accommodate these changes when we’re honest with ourselves. You’re entitled to change and have different needs as you grow. So is your partner. This doesn’t make either of you wrong. It just makes you human. 

2. Acknowledge The other Person’s Feelings

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Perhaps one of the most effective ways to improve communication in your relationship is to just shut up and listen!

When we get stuck in an argument or fight with someone, our natural reaction is to think one person is right and the other person is wrong. The reality is this is simply not the case. You are both entitled to feel what you feel and think what you think.

There are two words that are very powerful in communication: “Yes, and…” Effective communication is not about one person being right and the other wrong. Often, both people are right and allowed to feel their feelings.

Don’t attack the other person just to get them to compromise on issues. Instead, focus on simply hearing the other person. I promise you, if you do this one thing, your relationship will become so much better and your life easier. Just try to hear them and let them know it. It’s really that simple.

3. Be ready to change

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Evolution is a part of human nature. Accept it and grow or don’t and be miserable.

If you want to improve your communication as a means to get the other person to change their ways, you’re going about it the wrong way. Good communication is not about winning an argument. Your goal is to effectively share your thoughts, feelings, ideas, hopes and struggles with each other. Don’t be so focused on getting the other person to think the way you think, rather focus on how you can change your own behavior.

It’s always a good idea to stop and ask yourself, “How could I be wrong in this?“

4. Breathe 

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One of the best ways to improve communication is to breathe!

Managing your emotions is one of the most important skills when it comes to interpersonal interactions. How often are you ready to blow when you and your spouse or partner are speaking to each other? If the answer is a lot, it’s probably because you’re not breathing effectively and managing your emotions.

When communicating with your partner, or anyone, if you feel your emotions begin to rise, stop, take a slow, deep breath and let it out slowly. Remember, the key to breathing for relaxation is in the exhale – long, slow exhalations. Taking a moment will help prevent you from saying something you’ll just regret later or that will escalate the situation further.

None of us are perfect. All we can do is try to be the best versions of ourselves we can be for our partners in our relationships. If you’re struggling in your relationships and need more ways to improve your communication, find and awesome therapist or life coach you like and trust to help you improve your skills and your relationships!

James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.