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Communication Between Couples: How to Communicate in a Relationship

Communication Between Couples: How to Communicate in a Relationship

Most people have never learned how to communicate.  Without this skill, a person is handicapped in an intimate relationship.  Without being able to express themselves and listen to another, partners cannot achieve intimacy.  By developing your communication skills, you and your partner will be able to establish and preserve a loving, respectful relationship.
One of the biggest problems in communicating is that most couples have a basic misconception of what the purpose of communication is.  Most approach talking with a partner as a debate in which each presents a preconceived version of the reality of what is going on between the two partners.
One purpose of communication is to determine what reality is.  Communication involves the collaboration of two people as they share and examine all of their perceptions, feelings, ideas and thoughts to come to an accurate understanding of what is happening. Most of us mistakenly believe that the matter of communicating is simple.  Specific skills can be learned and developed in ourselves in order to talk with and listen to our loved ones.

Step 1:  Approaching a Conversation
When going into a conversation you are not going into a battle that you have to win. This is not to say that you can’t be angry, frustrated or provoked.  You have a right to all of your thoughts and feelings. Just consider that your partner may have something to say that is worth listening to and considering. 

Step 2:  Talking
Going into a conversation, you can only know what your own thoughts, feelings and perceptions are. 
This is the only thing that you and your partner each needs to bring to the conversation. However, talking personally about yourself is often more challenging than you might think.
Focus on yourself.
The focus of many of their discussions is on blaming each other.  In your effort to talk about yourself, avoid the temptation to lapse into attacking, accusing, criticizing or blaming your partner. Look at your partner and think of what you could reveal about yourself to him-her at this moment.
Reveal difficult feelings
It is important to recognize your irrational feelings.  Don’t dismiss them as being inappropriate, immature or meaningless.  Make an effort to talk about the feelings that you would much rather skip over. 
For example, if you feel hurt or disappointed discuss these feelings with your partner. 
Reveal your personal wants.
People often feel embarrassed to talk about what they want. 
Many of us have grown up feeling ashamed of our wants.  However, the more that you communicate on this level, the more in touch with yourself you will be–the more authentic you will be as a person–the closer your partner will be able to feel to you.
Talk to your partner the way you talk to anyone else.
Most people have a special way of communicating that they reserve for their partners.  What makes it special is that it includes abusive behaviors such as: being complaining, demanding, bossy, irritable, sarcastic, childish, parental, condescending.
When you are talking with your partner, stop and ask yourself: “Would I be talking like this to anyone else?” 

Step 3:  Listening
Going into a conversation, you have very little awareness of what your partner really thinks and feels until you have listened to them.
Listening is a skill that needs to be learned and developed. 

Listening is not about you.
Listening is entirely about the person you are listening to. The person talking is not looking to you for advice or guidance.  What they truly need is to be heard so that they feel that they are being seen.
Hear your partner out.
When you put yourself aside, that is when you focus on what your partner is saying rather than on how you are reacting, you are making yourself available to listen to your partner.  As your partner talks, try to feel what he-she is experiencing and feeling and make a special effort to empathize.

Indicate that you are hearing
It is not enough to listen silently.  It is helpful to indicate to your partner that you are hearing him-her.  During your conversation, reflect what your partner is saying and feeling. 
Reflecting lets your partner know that he-she is being heard, which makes him-her feeling seen by you.

Have compassion.
As you listen to your partner with empathy you gain a new perspective.  When you feel for your partner’s issues, your own personal over-reactions to them seem unimportant.   From this perspective, you see your partner as a separate person who you care about deeply as he-she deals with his-her own issues in life.

Step 4: Determine Reality
In the process of talking personally about yourself as your partner truly listened, it is likely that you both came to a deeper understanding of what you were experiencing and feeling.  Likewise, as your partner talked personally to you with you truly listening, both of you most likely came to a deeper understanding of your partner’s experiences and feelings.
This level of insight and understanding along with the feelings of empathy and compassion that accompany it, help clarify much of the confusion that exists within the couple.  The deeper awareness of each other eliminates many of the misconceptions, misinterpretations and miscommunications that go into creating this confusion.  What remains is a clearer picture of yourselves and of the reality of your relationship.
At this point in the conversation, you and your partner may want to review what you have learned about yourselves and each other and about your relationship.  By discussing what you have learned, you can identify the personal issues and reactions that tend to lead to trouble between you.  You will now know what to look out for to avoid trouble in the future.  And if you do get into trouble with each other, you can recognize what is happening and deal with it more quickly.

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