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How to Communicate Better in a Relationship

By Gottman Connect Staff

Published on 11/18/2022

We all desire the ideal relationship full of happiness and intimacy, but how many of us are willing to devote time and effort when things get tough? Long-term partnerships involve patience and love, but most importantly, they necessitate open communication.


But, how to communicate better in a relationship?

Certain tried-and-true techniques can assist you in selecting the appropriate words, time, and location to listen and be heard. Therefore, if you're interested in learning more about the Gottman methods, continue reading.

Connect with Your Partner

Even before you begin the talk, you should concentrate on connecting with your spouse and establishing a sense of shared purpose. This will assist you in determining the issue and resolving the disagreement together.

How to Connect with Your Partner in Your Relationship

Certain discussions may be challenging, and you want to ensure that your spouse does not feel attacked.

Because communication is about developing a deeper connection, you may wish to:

  • Be mindful of your words - Instead of starting an argument with “You don’t care” you can say “I feel disconnected from you lately”. This will allow your husband or wife to listen to you without feeling bad and focus on the real issue at hand.
  • Think about non-verbal communication - We frequently overlook our body language and how we express our emotions but be assured that your spouse acknowledges everything. Therefore, before the significant discussion, attempt to relax and approach it from a serene position. This may require some additional steps, time, and practice, but it is possible.
  • Have a Stress-Reducing Conversation - Connecting daily through meaningful conversations will make it easier to talk about serious issues that might arise in the future. Saying things like “I completely understand your frustration” can mean a lot to the other person.

How to Help Your Partner Connect in Your Relationship

If your spouse wants better communication in a relationship but is unsure how to initiate contact, you may need to assist.

Consider the following ideas from Dr. Gottman:

  1. Your spouse may require more encouragement to recognize that you are on the same side. Therefore, include physical touch and reassuring words of praise to ease their transition.
  2. All emotions are welcomed, so exercise tolerance and refrain from passing judgment on your partner's silence or strong emotions. This will encourage them to open up more, which will ultimately make the process smoother and you can find joy again.
  3. Offer an interesting way to connect and communicate with Rituals of Connection & Opportunity Card Decks.

Be Assertive

Important conversations can sometimes feel stressful, and we put them off for far too long. This might result in some pent-up emotions and even anger that infiltrate into the talk, making it uncomfortable and excessively confrontational.

Separating your thoughts from your feelings and being assertive are necessary components if you want to learn how to communicate better in a relationship.

How to Be Assertive in Your Relationship

Better communication in a relationship takes practice which is why you should learn to be assertive. This entails expressing your feelings and getting your needs satisfied without hurting your spouse.

You could:

  • Use kind words - Even when partners are attempting to settle an issue, coming from a kind and loving place will aid in the process. Regardless of how challenging the subject is, you should remind your spouse that you are on the same team. "I love you and I'm here" is an excellent place to start.
  • Be precise - Improve your communication skills and avoid excessive talking. Reminiscing on the past or exaggerating the issue would not resolve the situation. Therefore, find a balance between the need and your words for the best results.  
  • Consider partner’s emotions - There are many ways to communicate better in a relationship. All you need to remember is that connection is essential and there are no winners or losers. Because communication in your relationship is not intended to establish who is right or wrong, you must avoid offensive and passive-aggressive lines.

How to Help Your Partner Be Assertive in Your Relationship

Your spouse may require your strength and assistance with assertive communication, in which case you might offer:

  1. Couples therapy to get your marriage or relationship on the right track toward improved communication. This way, an expert may assist you immediately using different strategies.
  2. Allow your companion to discover their inner voice that talks openly about their feelings. Remind them to be polite and not to respond immediately if strong emotions arise as you begin to speak. 
  3. Try not to take everything personally and keep in mind that you are on the same team and attempting to improve your relationship.

Learn How to Listen

“Communication works for those who work at it.” - John Powell says, and shows that there are many ways to communicate better in a relationship you just need to be willing to learn.

One of the most important parts of any good conversation is not talking but rather listening to your partner.

How to Listen in Your Relationship

Listening is more than simply waiting your turn to speak; it is a delicate skill of patience and presence while your partner talks. Taking in every word and even allowing for a few moments of silence is critical.

  • Show genuine interest - When your partner speaks, you must look them in the eye and demonstrate genuine attention. This requires you to put down your phone and devote your full focus to the conversation. 
  • Show understanding - It is critical to hear and comprehend what your partner is attempting to communicate. If you are unsure about what your husband or wife attempted to convey, you should always follow up with more questions.

How to Help Your Partner Listen in Your Relationship

Feeling seen and heard is one of the key ingredients for better communication in a relationship, so it’s important to listen but also be heard.

If your partner needs positive reinforcement to listen you could:

  1. Explain the situation by using kind and simple words when the argument gets heated. If you remain calm and persistent your partner will more likely focus on your words.
  2. Show appreciation with words like “It means a lot to me when you listen”. Motivating your spouse can build affection and help with resolution;
  3. Suggest groups and classes that will help you learn communication skills together.

Dedicate Time

Each day provides ample opportunity for meaningful dialogue. This may take around 30 minutes, but the effort will result in several rewards, including a stronger relationship, more satisfaction, and affection.

How to Dedicate Time for Communication in Your Relationship

While certain interactions should occur on a regular basis, others may need forethought and attention. Therefore, for the best outcomes possible, you should:

  • Check-in on your partner - Discussions regarding everyday errands do not constitute deeper communication. If you want to learn how to be a better communicator in a relationship, you must check in on your partner's needs every day. In this manner, problems will have less time to create disruption and will be handled more quickly. 
  • Make plans - Select the appropriate time and location for longer conversations. This way, you can be certain that stress and other circumstances do not have a significant impact on the subject at hand.

How to Help Your Partner Dedicate Time for Communication in Your Relationship

There are a few strategies you can implement to motivate your partner to dedicate time for communication.

  1. Discuss the advantages and good aspects of communication in your relationship. For instance, you may remark that resolving conflicts strengthens the bond and even enhances your desire for sex.
  2. Seek your partner's assistance in determining the time and location. They may feel more at ease being prepared and conversing on their terms. 
  3. Suggest online classes and coaching that are in a particular time frame. This way you have a one-on-one date that is on the calendar.

Reset Expectations

Better communication in a relationship is not the result of a single talk; thus, you must adjust your expectations that everything will be handled immediately. Rather than that, attempt to focus on developing strong foundations that will enable you to discuss anything that comes your way.

How to Reset Expectations in Your Relationship

Experts suggest that communication is the key to a long-lasting and enjoyable relationship. This means talking about meaningful things and experiences every day and having a positive outlook on the prospect of conversation with your partner.

If you want to implement new ways to communicate better in a relationship you need to:

  • Show commitment - Every conversation matters, so don’t rely on one talk to resolve all the issues. Improve your communication skills every day and always remind your partner that you are on the same side.
  • Move forward - A lot of conversations are based on past events and hurts. While this is completely understandable it’s not productive, so you need to learn to let go of the past and look forward to the future.

How to Help Your Partner Reset Expectations in Your Relationship

While agreement on every issue is impossible, it is feasible to acknowledge your partner's emotions and respect their communication requirements in many situations. You can help your partner by:

  1. Allowing them to cool off if the conversation gets too heated. You can speak again when both of you are in a calmer space.
  2. Avoid hurtful comments, threats and don’t mention divorce just to get your spouse to talk. This can build resentment to the communication altogether. 
  3. Allow your partner to lead the conversation and be open-minded about the prospect that not everything is meant to be resolved instantly. 
  4. Suggest counseling if you need additional help in your relationship.

Final Thoughts

Communication may become challenging when daily life takes over and stress persists. However, there are always ways to communicate better in a relationship.

Apart from following our comprehensive guide, you may be interested in the following products and resources: