Boost Intimacy in Your Relationship
by Enhancing Your Communication Skills
Do you know what the number one reason for couples splitting up is? Adultery? Financial troubles? A prolonged cool period? Not really. Research suggests that poor communication is the number one reason why couples call it quits.
Communication is not a given and some people aren’t good at it in a natural way. They’ll have to learn how to express themselves, how to stand their ground and how to listen to others.
Good communication is a two-way street and it necessitates a conscious effort to get good results.
So, how often do you tell your partner what you want and what you need? Do you know how to express your disappointment in a constructive way that doesn’t make them shut off completely? If you believe that you’re missing some of the essential communication skills, the following guide will acquaint you with simple and effective strategies that will lead to more honesty, better interactions and a higher level of intimacy than ever before.
Do Not Assume
The first rule of good communication (and also of good journalism!) is never assumed. You’re not in your partner’s head. Hence, you can’t know what they’re thinking or feeling about a situation.
If you believe that you know exactly what’s going on, chances are that you’re projecting your own state of mind on your partner.
Assumptions can lead to serious issues that intensify with the passage of time.
Instead of presuming knowledge, ask your partner a direct question.
You’ll probably be surprised by some of the answers you receive and how they’re different from your perceived reality. Misconceptions can be avoided by uttering a simple inquiry. What’s the worst thing that could happen if you ask about a challenging topic? You may get your feelings hurt for a little bit of time but at least you’ll know where you stand.
Don’t Just Listen to Your Partner, Hear Them
Listening and hearing aren’t one and the same thing. The first one is a passive approach. The second one is active – you’re listening, you’re hearing, you’re analyzing and internalizing the information that you’ve received.
Active listening (hearing) is engaged. You may ask follow-up questions to understand the situation better. You may give your partner enough time to express themselves and let it all out. You may offer some input but only after you’ve heard everything and you’ve drawn some conclusions on the basis of the information you received.
If you want to develop your active listening skills with a partner, try the following the next time you’re having a conversation:
Focus on your partner
Pay attention to intonation, body language and non-verbal cues that are giving you additional information
Resist the urge to interrupt
After they say what they have to say, ask follow-up questions
Try to summarize the main points your partner made and ask them if you got everything right
Our emotions and state of mind do affect the way in which we communicate. Even if you’re angry, however, give your partner a chance to explain their side of the story. If you attempt to be impartial and try active listening, chances are that you’ll learn something new that will potentially diffuse the situation.
Don’t Ignore the Difficult Topics
While you may be very good when it comes to communicating certain things in a relationship, other topics may pose a bit of a challenge.
These are the topics that people tend to ignore, hoping that the problem would eventually disappear on its own.
That’s not how communication works.
In fact, not speaking of something that’s bothering you will only lead to more severe issues down the line.
Some of the topics that people find difficult to discuss with a partner include:
- Sex, sexual preferences, fantasies, etc.
- Future plans (having kids, building a career)
- Financial issues
- Issues revolving around in-laws and other family members
- Past relationships, baggage, unrealistic expectations
- Spirituality and religion
At the same time, these are such important issues! If you can’t be on the same page with your partner above all of the above, chances are that the relationship isn’t going to survive.
So, approach difficult topics just like you’d rip a band-aid. Make it quick – blurt out the question and leave it to your partner to move forward with the conversation. Once you have it out in the open, you’ll probably find out your worries were unjustified.
You can also turn the experience into a game or a communication exercise. Put together a list of flirty questions to ask your partner in an attempt to find out more about their sexual and intimacy preferences. If you’re playful about it, both of you will potentially find it easier to open up.
Talk Before a Conflict Occurs
The last thing you should focus on is something called a regular relationship check-in.
Obviously, that’s a made-up thing but it gives you some idea about the importance of talking to your partner before things turn into an argument.
Massive arguments tend to have serious build-up periods, especially if both of you are patient individuals. All of that build-up will lead to an explosion sooner or later. That explosion will be linked to emotions running high, which means that a productive conversation would be impossible at the time being.
A much better approach would be to talk about small annoyances and issues before they turn into a big thing. Once again – problems don’t just disappear as you ignore them. On the contrary – the small thing that’s currently bothering you could potentially become something massive that’s driving you crazy.
Initiating such change doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, it shouldn’t be if both of you want the relationship to work.
The first thing to do is sit down and have an honest conversation with your partner. Discuss your communication needs, boundaries, preferences and shortcomings. Such talk can be incredibly liberating and it will establish solid foundations for effective communication and a ton of relationship happiness in the future.
Further Reading from Skills You Need
Personal and romantic relationships can be difficult to navigate.
Even those who are highly skilled at personal interactions at work can struggle to translate these skills to their home environment. This book is designed to help you do just that: to take your existing interpersonal skills, understand them better, and use them effectively in your personal relationships.
About the Author
Lara Davis is a Ph.D. in Psychology, couples therapy counselor, and relationship expert at DoULike. She loves helping people, traveling, going on long walks, and devouring delicious foods.