Open, honest communication should be part of every healthy relationship. The guidelines below can help open up the channels of communication between you and your partner. If you’re in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, use these tips with caution. You know your relationship best. If any of these tips would put you in danger, we don’t recommend that you try them.
For healthier communication, try to:
FIND THE RIGHT TIME
When having a serious conversation with your partner about something that’s bothering you, it’s a good idea to pick the right time to talk. Try to find a time when both you and your partner are calm and not distracted, stressed or in a rush. You might even consider scheduling a time to talk if one or both of you is really busy.
TALK FACE TO FACE
Avoid discussing serious matters or issues in writing. Text messages, letters and emails can be misinterpreted. As long as you feel safe doing so, talk in person so there aren’t any unnecessary miscommunications.
DO NOT ATTACK
Even when we mean well, we can sometimes come across as harsh because of our word choices. Using “you” can sound like you’re attacking, which could make your partner defensive and less receptive to your message. Instead, try using “I” or “we.” For example, say “I feel like we haven’t been as close lately” instead of “You have been distant with me.”
Sometimes the truth hurts, but it’s the key to a healthy relationship. Admit that you aren’t always perfect and apologize when you make a mistake instead of making excuses. You will feel better and it will help strengthen your relationship.
CHECK YOUR BODY LANGUAGE
Make eye contact when speaking. Sit up and face your partner. Let your partner know you’re listening. Show them you really care. Don’t take a phone call, text or be distracted while you’re having a conversation.
USE THE 48-HOUR RULE
If your partner does something that makes you angry, it’s important to talk to them about it. But you don’t have to do so right away; taking a little time to process how you’re feeling can be helpful for reacting in a healthy way. If you’re still hurt 48 hours later, say something (and try using the tips on this page!). If not, consider forgetting about it. But remember, your partner can’t read your mind. If you don’t speak up when you’re upset, there is no way for them to apologize or change their behavior. Once you do mention your hurt feelings and your partner sincerely apologies, let it go. Don’t bring up past issues if they’re not relevant.