How can I improve communication with my partner?
Open and clear communication can be learned. You can start by asking these questions:
- What things cause upsets between you and you partner? Are they because you are not listening to each other?
- What things cause you disappointment and pain? What things don't you talk about and what stops you talking about them?
- How would you like your communication with your partner to be different?
If possible, ask your partner to think about these same questions and then share your thoughts, without criticising each other.
If you are both willing to give it a go, you could try this experiment, or you could try it by yourself.
Decide on some ways in which you are going to communicate differently with your partner. Start simply – you might talk about something you did during the day and ask your partner how their day was; you could comment about something you heard on the news and ask for your partner's opinion. Don't let on to each other what aspect of communication you are going to change, but see what effect this has on your partner, and change the way you communicate based on the response you get. After an agreed period (perhaps a week) sit down and compare notes.
Remember - changing your part in the communication will lead to changes. You don't have to wait for your partner to change.
You will find that as you become more aware of how you communicate, you will be able to take more control over what happens between you. Opening up new issues and areas of communication may not be easy at first, but as time passes you will find that it leads to a more fulfilling relationship.
If you find that there are aspects of communication in your relationship that you cannot improve by yourself then consider having a talk with a relationship counsellor.
Counsellors are trained to recognise the patterns in a couple's communication that are causing problems, and to help change those patterns.
Counselling is confidential. Usually it takes only a few meetings to make some worthwhile changes.
Relationship Skills courses
You could alternatively consider doing a course provided by Relationships Australia. There are many courses to choose from; for example, a relationship course for couples or a course for couples where one or both partners have a child or children from a previous relationship.
It makes sense to take action early and spend a little time talking to someone about your concerns instead of waiting until things get worse.