Honest relationship communication as the key to success for happy couples
There is hardly any form of relationship like the romantic relationship. In this relationship, you get to know each other so well, there is so much intimacy, and so many areas of your life are shared. Sooner or later in relationships, you reach the point where your partner and you have different needs. For example, one person may want to spend a lot of time with friends, while the other wants to spend more time as a couple. After all, different needs exist where two people meet. Yet many couples find it difficult to talk openly about their own needs. However, it is central to learn this skill in order to be in a fulfilling romantic relationship. Therefore, one thing is especially important: honest, open relationship communication! You'll learn 3 techniques to improve your couple communication in this article.
Understanding the problem: Why is clear, effective relationship communication often so difficult?
To begin, we can ask ourselves the question: Why do misunderstandings and communication problems occur so often at all? Why is successful communication so difficult for couples somehow? Misunderstandings often occur because partners talk to each other on different levels.
The communication model
Schulz von Thun's communication model illustrates how multifaceted our communication messages are. It explains why misunderstandings occur so often. If one person only wants to communicate a fact, the other may understand an appeal. The model consists of the following components:
Example of the communication model
As an example situation, let's look at an argument between Tom and Lisa. This argument was triggered by Tom saying "The garbage hasn't been taken down in three days." Lisa is responsible for taking down the trash this week.
Through the example, it becomes clear how different the message that reaches Lisa can be. Therefore, Lisa may interpret the message differently depending on the level at which she understands Tom's sentence.
The solution to improve your relationship communication
One solution to deal with the ambiguity of communication messages and improve your communication is the so-called non-violent communication. Nonviolent communication can help you to express your messages clearly. With this method you talk about your feelings and needs, and thus you can significantly improve the communication in your relationship.
Nonviolent communication- conflict conversations for conflict avoiders
Nonviolent communication avoids accusations, judgments and criticism. Instead, it speaks of observations, feelings and needs. In this way, even conflict-averse people can learn to express what is important to them. As a result, conflicts can be more relaxed and less emotionally charged.
Nonviolent communication as a method to improve your relationship communication
Talking about needs is a skill that you can learn and practice well. It also helps in interpersonal interactions in general. Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication is a technique designed to help you communicate needs in conflict situations. The technique is based on the fact that you first describe the situation in an objective and non-judgmental way. In the next step, you name your feelings. In the third step, you name the need behind it. Finally, you express a wish or a request as to how this need could be fulfilled.
An example of this is a situation in which one person is late and the other person is angry about it. Nonviolent communication here might look like this:
Situation: You showed up 15 minutes after four o'clock, and the appointment time was four o'clock.
Feeling: I am annoyed and sad,
Need: because reliability is important to me and it is very essential to me to use my time effectively.
Wish/ Request: Next time, could you let me know ahead of time so that I can manage my time better?
You are responsible for your feelings
Another key point is that you are responsible for your feelings. After all, they are dependent on your needs, not the actions of others. Instead of thinking "you're making me angry or sad," it's about communicating why the other person's behavior is causing me an emotion. In doing so, his behavior certainly fulfills his need. But your need is not fulfilled. The general attitude here is appreciative. This is because you try to understand the other person and you are open to the other person's needs.
How to identify your needs
Often it is not so easy to name the need. Because at first you often only feel the emotion, e.g. anger or sadness. But you can use the emotion as a "clue" that leads you to your needs. You can ask yourself: What was important to you and was not fulfilled? You can also train yourself to recognize your own needs. For example, you can start to reflect once a day on what needs you have experienced during the day. A list of needs can help you to recognize your own needs and to better understand your own behavior.
Your training in active listening
In addition to clearly communicating your own perceptions, feelings, and needs, good communication also includes attentive listening. Do you have difficulties listening to your partner? Are you wondering how you can listen more attentively? Perhaps the technique of active listening is right for you. Often, while listening, you are already mentally preparing a response. Or you want to share a similar experience, or an opinion. But active listening is about giving the speaker your full attention. It also gives him/her the opportunity to express himself/herself completely. This allows him/her to address his/her needs and feelings on a deeper level.
Active Listening Exercise
Take 15 minutes of undisturbed time.
Reflection: discuss together how the exercise was for you and how it made you feel.
This technique can help the speaker feel more understood. It can also help him/her know him/herself better. Overall, this will improve your communication! I hope some of the methods give you new ideas on how to improve your relationship communication. I wish you a lot of fun trying them out!
I'm happy to hear from you what you think about the article. What do you personally find difficult in communicating with your partner? Feel free to leave me a comment!
Are looking for support to change your communication behaviour with your partner? I would be happy to accompany you!
You can find more information about Nonviolent Communication on the Nonviolent Communication website (English) here.
- Rosenberg, M. B. (2015). Nonviolent communication: A language of life (3rd ed.). PuddleDancer Press.
- Schulz von Thun Institut für Kommunikation. (n.d.). das Kommunikationsquadrat. Retrieved February 1, 2022, from https://www.schulz-von-thun.de/die-modelle/das-kommunikationsquadrat.