Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.
Communication in Romantic Relationships
Flag on the play! Poor communication, husband, 15-second silent treatment. Resume play. Oh, hey there! This is John Study, and he's a relationship coach. Yes, he takes his job a bit literally, but hey, relationships are serious things!
In every relationship where people are romantically involved, communication is going to be one of the most fundamental components. Communication largely determines the success or failure of romantic relationships, and coaches like John Study, here, aim to make sure that we understand healthy communication.
Okay, let's look at some communication skills, and maybe we can get this couple back in the game.
There are a lot of ways that we could discuss communication in a romantic relationship, but let's start with daily communication skills. After all, relationships are pretty much the defining factors in our daily experiences, so it's important to know how to communicate effectively on a daily basis.
A lot of couples think that just talking everyday counts as communicating. That may work in the minor leagues, but Coach Study won't let you get away with that in a serious relationship!
So, let's start with everything that communication entails. Communication is constant and consists of both verbal communication, or the things you say aloud, and non-verbal communication, or the information you present without speaking. If I roll my eyes, I am communicating something non-verbally.
Since we are always communicating whether we intend to or not, the first step is to be aware of what we're communicating. This means being actively involved in communication. What are you communicating? Is it openness, honesty, empathy, love, or commitment? Or, are you communicating boredom and disinterest?
At the same time, you also need to be actively aware of your partner's communication. What are they saying? What are they not saying? What does their body language indicate?
Healthy communication on a daily basis means never letting communication be a mechanical process, by which I mean you can't just go through the motions. Healthy communication means active communication on a daily basis.
Daily communication is very important to maintaining a healthy relationship, but let's face it: fights are going to happen. Honestly, it's inevitable. So, don't be afraid of it. Conflict is a natural part of all human relationships, and it's not evil. We just need to know how to handle it well.
In a romantic relationship, this often starts with empathy. Control your own emotions enough to consider the other person's, and don't let yourself turn into the villain of this scenario. Of course, sometimes before we get here, we just need some space, and there's nothing wrong with heading back to your corners if it gives you a chance to cool off. Much better. This will also help you to stay on topic. Fights can very easily escalate into other topics, but that's a major foul. Resolve one issue before addressing others. To maintain active listening and communication, many couples have found success through I-Statements, in which each person repeats back the other's argument. See how that works?
Now, ten years ago, that probably would have been the end of Coach Study's training camp. However, we now live in a world where more and more of our communication happens online. We meet people through online dating sites, we connect via texts and social media, we e-mail and instant message and tweet our feelings; online communication is a big part of most modern relationships. So, that means we need to be aware of the special issues this creates.
Studies have found that it is easier to remain self-focused while using online communication and that it is very easy to misinterpret other people's messages. We rely on nonverbal communication a lot more than most of us realize, and we tend to misunderstand people's intentions when we can't read their body language. So, if you are in a relationship that involves texting or social media, remember to avoid making assumptions. If something is unclear, clarify. Keep an open mind, and directly ask for clarification rather than jumping to conclusions. Now, that was a slam dunk.
Communication is one of the most important aspects of any healthy romantic relationship, and it's more than just talking about surface-level topics. Healthy communication means active communication on a daily basis. Both partners must always be aware of what they are communicating and what their partner is trying to communicate.
Communication is constant, both from verbal communication, or what we say aloud, and non-verbal communication, which is information we present without speaking. So, we have to work at not letting it become an automatic, impersonal process.
Healthy communication is also an important part of conflict resolution. All couples fight, but we need to handle conflicts with empathy, and we need to stay focused on the issue. Many couples find that using I-Statements, where each person repeats back the other's argument, can be helpful.
With the importance of technology in modern relationships, we also need to remember that miscommunication is easy in the absence of nonverbal clues, so seeking clarification is always better than making assumptions.
With these communication skills, your relationship can be less of a competition and more of a walk in the park.
Lesson at a Glance
Healthy romantic relationships stay healthy through effective verbal and non-verbal communication. Additionally, conflicts should be dealt with utilizing empathy and I-Statements. When something is not clear, whether through technology or conversing in-person, it's okay to ask for clarification and not assume.
After completing this lesson, you should be able to:
- Use effective verbal and non-verbal communication in daily interactions
- Explain the importance of using empathy when dealing with conflict
- Define I-Statements
- Effectively communicate to your partner while using technology
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