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Fostering healthy communication in your relationship is one of the most important things you can do towards relationship satisfaction. Indeed, there is an abundance of differing opinions on how communication affects relationship satisfaction. However, it would be unimaginable that healthy communication in a relationship could have nothing but positive effects on relationship outcomes. So, it is therefore beneficial that from the outset you assume that fostering healthy communication in your relationship is critical to the level of satisfaction you will experience.
So, why is healthy communication likely to increase the level of relationship satisfaction? Here is a definition of communication we can relate to in a wholesome, 360-dedegree manner.
According to the English language, dictionary communication is: “The act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express ideas, thoughts, feelings, emotions to someone else. In a committed relationship, that person is your partner or spouse.
And that makes a world of difference to the impact healthy or unhealthy communication will have on the relationship.
The Good News About Communication
The right communication style can deliver pleasant results in your relationship.
All relationships have their ups and downs, but a healthy communication style can make it easier to deal with inevitable conflicts. That by itself is very reassuring to know.
No matter the communication challenges you are facing in your relationship, you should know the following good news about communication.
- It is a wonderful conduit to convey the best of you.
- It is a wonderful vehicle to deliver the best from your spouse.
- Communication is very important in relationships.
- Most people can learn how to communicate more effectively given the right approach.
- Communication allows us to share our needs and be a part of satisfying our partner’s needs.
- It can foster healthy camaraderie that leads to relationship satisfaction.
With commitment and goodwill, communication in your relationship can be a pleasant partner in building and maintaining relationship satisfaction.
The Role of Communication in Your Relationship
It is tempting to see communication in a relationship as nothing more than communication elsewhere. That would be a mistake. Communication in a relationship touches on many different aspects of our interactions in that relationship.
From the physical to the emotional, the insignificant to the sublime, communication impacts and shape our relationship.
Communication is a part of the nutrition we feed our relationship.
If that nutrition lacks sustenance, then there is no doubt what will happen to that relationship – it fades.
Of equal importance is the constancy of that communication. Without constant communication, that nourishing that the relationship requires is not going to be enough. Again, the end-result is a relationship that fades.
The main role of communication in your relationship has to be to maintain the health of that relationship.
Communication has to be healthy, and it has to be constant if it is to result in relationship satisfaction.
Healthy Communication in Relationships
Communication is not just talking; it’s about studying and understanding your partner’s unspoken words. It’s about identifying the tone in conversations and adjusting accordingly. It is about conveying emotions. It’s about setting the right conversational tone.
All the above are necessary to build a healthy conversational environment. And all the above are hallmarks of healthy communication.
Healthy communication, therefore, is communication that results in desired healthy relationship outcomes.
That does not necessarily mean that healthy communication will always result in relationship outcomes that are pleasant relationship outcomes.
Sometimes for an outcome to be healthy and beneficial, it also has to be unpleasant. What is important is that the conversation results in desired healthy outcomes.
How To Tell If the Communication in Your Relationship is Healthy
It is quite easy to tell if the communication in your relationship is healthy. Here are some crucial clues to help you decide:
- Do you argue often over what seems to be triviality? If yes, this is indicating a communication problem.
- Do your arguments end up resolving differences less than you would desire? If yes, your arguments may be something else than what you both think you are arguing about. This indicates that something else is going on, including a faulty communication style.
- Are there regular, non-confrontational conversations in your relationship? If no, this may mean there is fear to have conversations about even non-threatening issues in the relationship.
- Do you constantly interrupt each other during conversations? If yes, this may indicate a problem with communication style or just simply a power-struggle environment.
Healthy communication is vital to the health of your relationship. If any of the above indictors point to an unhealthy communication environment, don’t despair. With commitment and know-how, you can fix this issue for your relationship.
How to Create a Healthy Communication Environment in Your Relationship
One of the first things in establishing a healthy communication environment is identifying where communication challenges currently exist.
Not everyone finds it easy to express their feelings and needs. Creating a healthy communication environment means an environment that encourages honesty, willingness, and transparency.
Communication may just be difficult in certain areas. To identify these areas, pose the following questions and answer honestly.
- What are the things that tend to shut down the conversations between you and your partner?
- What are the areas of your relationship that you find disappointing?
- In what way would you like your communication with your partner to be different?
- What are the areas that cause friction between you and your partner?
- What are the areas of your relationship that bring you satisfaction?
- Are there things you would like to discuss but for some reason don’t?
- Are there areas that you have struggled with for a very long time?
Tips on creating the right communication environment for your relationship
- Set aside time to talk. Setting aside time gives each person time to prepare and not have anxiety about having to talk when they don’t feel like it.
- While you talk, avoid the habit of being distracted by phone calls or paying attention to social media.
- Be clear about what is up for discussion. Try not to get into the habit of wandering all over the place when you talk.
- At the beginning of the conversation, even when unpleasant things are being discussed, try to share something positive.
- Practice intellectual honesty. Being dishonest intellectually may mean you may state facts but willingly choose to interpret those facts in a manner that suits only you.
- Watch the tone of voice you bring to your conversations. Your words may be saying one thing, but a cultivated tone of voice completely unsuited for the conversation being had could be saying something different.
- Watch your non-verbal communication, such as posture, eye movements, grimacing or any other expression that may convey something other than is appropriate or desired.
- Try not to have conversations when you are angry. Yes, this may be difficult. But there are other ways to release steam, such as going for a walk or calling a friend.
- Reaching out to touch from time can be helpful at times.
- Do not make demands during conversations. Saying something like “Would it be ok with you if…”, is much better than saying “I want ….” Taking the latter attitude sets up a “Me” environment. Certainly, express your needs, but never in a demanding manner.
Working on You for a Healthier Relationship Communication Environment
A healthy communication environment requires that both partners work on themselves to make them more capable of creating that environment.
That means ridding ourselves of the things that keep us from creating that environment, and taking on the things that make us more willing to.
Here are some desirable and undesirable characteristics to consider working on yourself.
- Be trustworthy. It is almost impossible to have an effective conversation if trust is lacking or what is being said is not fully believed.
- Do not be judgmental. Coming across as judgmental discourages openness and transparency in your communication.
- Learn to recognize nuances. Life is not always black-and-white or even wrong-or-right. Sometimes life is very nuanced and it is in the nuances that we find solutions.
- Seek to improve your listening skills. Listening is more than just hearing or even paying attention. It is also having respect for the other person and acknowledging their right to be heard. Learn this skill and your communication will be more beneficial.
- Learn to stay in the moment. It can be tempting at times to allow what is being said to us to remind us of other things that happened in our lives. These may be pleasant or unpleasant. If they have nothing to do with the issue being discussed, do not give them your attention. Stay in the moment.
The above are some of the ways you can go about establishing a healthy environment in your relationship where useful conversations can take place.
How To Ensure Your Communications in Your Relationship Are Healthy
Under the best of circumstances, it can be a challenge having the type of communication that moves the ball forward on any issue in your relationship. That unfortunately is the nature of relationships.
However, with some useful strategies, you can make you communication more likely to resolve your issues and increase relationship satisfaction.
Here are some useful approaches to use to have more healthy communications in your relationship.
Verbal communication can get us into trouble if we are not disciplined in our approach. This makes it more challenging when feelings and emotions are involved. Use the following strategies to make your verbal communications more effective.
- Allow the other person to speak without interruption.
- Repeat what is being said silently to yourself intermittently. This helps to build understanding and empathy.
- Be aware of how you come across – your tone, your facial expression, your gestures. Make sure they are in sync with your words.
- Encourage feedback to what you are saying; Saying things like “Does that make sense?” helps to get the other person more into what is being said.
- Try to stay away from the “You” statements that make assumptions or cast aspersions about the other person. Use “I think” or “I feel” statements instead.
- Try to focus on the future rather than the past. Even where discussing something undesirable that has happened, try painting a picture of the future where that thing is not present.
- Talk about what actually happened and resist the temptation to either make assumptions about anything or pass judgments.
- Share the positive things about your relationship and what is important and even joyful to you. No matter the conversation, it helps to be positive.
Say It Differently – Examples of Rephrasing our Communication for Better Outcomes
Sometimes just the way we phrase our communication can make a world of difference. Here are a few examples where just saying something different can result in a better interaction with our partner.
- Instead of saying “You make me jealous”, say “When you do that, I feel insecure.”
- Instead of saying “I want you to do ABC”, say instead “Would it be ok if you do ABC? I’d prefer that.”
- Instead of saying “Did you have a good day?”, say instead “How was your day. Mine was…”
- Instead of saying “I don’t care..”, say instead “I would love to care but….”
- Instead of saying “Why can’t we”, say instead “I think it would be good if we …”
- Instead of saying “You make me feel terrible”, say instead “When that happens, I feel terrible.”
- Instead of saying “What do you want me to do?”, say instead “What would you like me to do?
Non-verbal communication can be as effective or distracting as verbal communication. Here are some do and don’ts to improve your non-verbal communication.
- Try to be relaxed in your body posture, indicating a willingness to listen.
- Try not to give feedback to what is being said by displaying distracting or disruptive feelings. Rolling your eyes is not a good reaction to what is being said in a conversation.
- Maintain eye contact in a manner that displays your interest in what is being said.
- If possible, sit or stand at the same level as the other person.
- Do not create distractions while the other person is speaking such as paying attention to something that has nothing to do with what is being said.
- Put aside your own thoughts and really try to understand and relate to what is being said to you.
Healthy communication in your relationship may not guarantee relationship satisfaction. However, having a healthy communication environment gives you a better chance of having one.
If you are having relationship challenges, a good place to look is at your communication. In several studies on relationships and what keeps them going, communication was identified as one of the hallmarks of long-lasting relationships.
Taking the time and effort to improve the communication environment in your relationship is very likely to result in higher relationship satisfaction.
However, there may be times when you need help doing just this. If communication seems to be a challenge that is impeding your relationship, we urge you to see a qualified counselor. Your relationship is worth the investment of time and help.