February is a time of year when many of us are focused on our relationships with significant others. There is endless messaging around us telling us the best ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day and show our love and appreciation for each other. However, relationships are not only around for the month of February. So how can you make sure you’re keeping your relationship healthy and satisfying all year? Sometimes, the simplest way is the best way: talk it out!
In any relationship, whether romantic, platonic, or familial, communication is key! It is the way we get to know each other, how we let others know what our needs and desires are, how we are able to handle disagreements, and truly the foundation of any healthy relationship. Communication is something that does not always come easily; we may feel awkward or selfish bringing up certain topics or talking about our own needs. Here are some tips to help you communicate with your partner and any other important person in your life!
Another cornerstone of strong relationships is honesty, with ourselves and with others. However, being transparent aboutour needs and feelings can sometimes feel scary or overwhelming. What if the other person doesn’t really listen to us? What if they disregard what we say or don’t react in the way we had hoped? It is important to remember that those reactions are not a reflection of you as a person or the value of what you have to say! The people who you care for, and who care for you, will want to know how you are feeling, whether it is positive or negative. A good first step to honesty with others is honesty with yourself: let yourself truly acknowledge your emotions and needs, and treat them with the value that they deserve.
“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Kindness in communication is crucial to healthy and positive relationships. Our loved ones are much more likely to be receptive to what we have to say if it is said in a kind way. This does not mean disregarding the way we are actually feeling; it just means choosing our words and actions in a way that reflects the care we have for the person with whom we are communicating. Try using “I” statements to reflect the way that you are feeling or experiencing a situation: “I feel sad when you….” “It makes me happy when…” By phrasing our emotions in this way, we are not projecting them onto our loved ones or placing blame entirely on them; rather, we are owning our emotional reactions and kindly expressing them.
Like most other things in a relationship, communication is not a one-and-done deal. Communication should be a priority everyday, even if it may look different from one day to the next. Because communication may be a new or scary experience for us or our partners, it will take practice to begin feeling comfortable. If you are just starting to practice communication, try pointing out when your partner communicates in a way that makes you happy; this reinforces new, healthy patterns in your relationship. You can also set aside a time each day or week to talk about things that may have bothered you. This can help you and your partner to know that you will definitely have time to bring up any concerns or worries, instead of being afraid that they will not be spoken about if they aren’t immediately addressed. This practice will also give both of you time to reflect on your emotional reactions to situations and to center yourselves before a potentially difficult discussion.
Communication can be difficult, especially if you aren’t used to practicing healthy communication regularly, or if you didn’t have an example of it when you were growing up. By striving to be genuine, kind, and consistent with your communication, you and your partner will grow closer both to each other and to yourselves! If you need help with learning how to communicate or use any of the skills we’ve talked about today, counseling may be a great first step. At SBS Psychological Associates, we are here to help you learn to use these skills to better your relationships! Give us a call today at 678-205-0838 to schedule an appointment or consultation.