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Maintaining effective communication with your partner
by TeenHelp August 5th 2017, 08:56 PM

Maintaining effective communication with your partner
By Sammi (Metanoia.)

One of the most common pieces of advice people offer when a new relationship starts is to communicate with your partner about topics such as boundaries and expectations. During those beginning stages, it's common for couples to talk about everything, big and small. However, as relationships progress, those open conversations often start to dwindle, especially regarding the more mundane topics like little annoyances. While this is completely natural, it’s important to maintain open lines of communication as it will keep your relationship healthy and, in many ways, make it stronger. Although it may be difficult to establish these communication channels, there are some things you can do to make it easier for yourself and your partner.

Bring things up early
Often, people tend to avoid bringing up things that bother them when they happen in order to avoid arguments. Instead, they simply wait for it to blow over, something which may or may not happen. While brushing things under the rug can feel like the best solution to a problem, doing so can often lead to larger issues in the long run as true feelings about an issue inevitably start to surface. Rather than taking this approach the next time something your partner says or does bothers you, reach out to them and let them know how you feel about the situation. While it may cause a bit of conflict at first, starting the discussion when a problem arises will allow the two of you to find a solution sooner and get back to normal more quickly.

Create a safe space for discussion
While the phrase “you can talk to me about anything” is often mentioned, making that a reality does require some effort. Because many people naturally make efforts to avoid any sort of confrontation in their relationships, ensuring that both parties feel that they will be met with a willingness to listen and compromise when necessary is essential. If you and your partner seem to fight every time one of you attempts to bring up something that is bothering you, carve out some time in your schedule to sit down with them and discuss this. During this time, brainstorm a list of things that help you and your partner feel more comfortable about expressing your feelings to one another. From there, you can begin to think of ways to implement those needs into your environment, creating a safer space overall.

Use "I" statements
When conflict arises, it’s easy to give in to the urge to place blame on your partner. However, doing so is more likely to put them on edge and make them more resistant to hearing what you have to say. Using "I" statements is a simple yet effective way to combat this. Unlike "you" statements which can come across as accusatory (e.g., "You never listen to me and I hate it."), "I" statements focus on your specific feelings regarding a specific incident (e.g., "I feel invalidated when you don't listen to what I'm saying"). While they may seem similar, simply making your feelings the focus of the statement is likely to make your partner more receptive to what you have to say.

Listen openly and compromise
Despite best intentions, there will be times that you and your partner are unable to see eye to eye on something. Rather than trying to get your partner completely on your side (or vice versa), work with each other to find middle ground. While it isn't always the easiest thing to do, set aside your biases and really make an effort to hear what your partner has to say and try to see things from their point of view. Then, ask them to do the same for you while you share your thoughts and feelings on the matter. From there, start chipping away at the things that are most important to each of you and see if you can find a solution that both of you are content with.

While discussing difficult situations with your partner can sometimes be uncomfortable, doing so will be beneficial to your relationship in the long run. It will take mutual effort and may require a little trial and error before you and your partner are able to work through things effectively, but practice makes perfect.
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