Communication is a challenge for anyone, even at the best of times. But why is communication so difficult, especially in relationships?
While part of it stems from a relatively universal fear of letting others get close, each of us brings our own hang-ups to the table. Sometimes, we aren't even aware of them. No wonder communicating someone else — who has his or her own hang-ups — is so hard!
In order to minimize the risk of miscommunication, it's essential to take charge of the challenge. There are certain steps anyone can take to try and ensure that our messages are properly received and interpreted by our partners (and all others, really).
To begin, start with these five simple steps to facilitate better communication in your relationship. Who knows? You may end up enhancing the quality of your connection!
1. Don’t make assumptions about your partner's feelings.
People quite often assume that their partner automatically “knows” what they are thinking/feeling/knowing. Does this sound familiar to you? Or have you ever thought to yourself, “If my partner truly loved me, he/she would (fill in the blank here) ____________"?
In order to receive the kind of love that you need in a relationship, it’s best to share with your partner what your “language of love” is by verbally communicating it. People aren't mind-readers after all.
To do this, you first need to get in touch with what your own needs and desires are — and for some, that can be the hardest part. Perhaps you feel most loved by being cuddled and hugged frequently. Or, maybe it’s having your partner do things around the house for you.
Remember, too, that sometimes it takes more than one telling to get the message across. Don’t automatically assume that your partner knows how to demonstrate to you his/her love, because they may have a different interpretation of what a loving relationship entails than you do!
2. Ask questions to find out what your partner believes about love.
What your partner understands about loving you, and perhaps also what they don’t know, enables you to equip them with the tools and awareness that they need in order to be able to support you in the way that you need to be loved. Don’t keep repeating the criticism, “He should have known …” or “I’ve told her 100 times that …” Repetition tends to be a necessary component in communication. (And with that, so is patience!)
3. Be honest about when you're the one causing problems.
Do you find yourself evaluating your partner’s behavior, and often taking things personally because “they just don’t get it”? Is it possible that you haven't clearly articulated your needs sufficiently in order to experience that they got the message? Or maybe it is time to go to the spa so you can work on developing a little patience.
Perhaps you need to stop expecting, in order to help remove some of the roadblocks in the way, so that they can deliver the love you are seeking.
4. Get clarity on your partner's perspective.
As we enter into a relationship, we often forget which perspective we are looking from — typically our own! However, our partner also has his/her own perspective. This can lead to different interpretations, and different expectations. It’s necessary to talk about perspectives, and work out any differences.
Also, this may need to be done over and over, throughout the evolution and progression of the relationship. As people grow and change, so do their expectations and perceptions. This alone can have a profound impact on a relationship.
5. Realize that you're always giving AND always receiving in a relationship.
If you always assume that no matter how much you give, you're equally receiving that much and more, you'll never have an empty bucket.
In other words: in order to give, you first have to receive. There are myriad ways you may be receiving — from Spirit, from God, from church, from self-love, from awesome experiences, from knowledge. Perhaps it's not the fact that you're not receiving, but that your “receiving receptor” has the volume turned down, and you're not taking your gifts into account.
Once this has been brought to your awareness, how do you turn this receiving receptor volume up so that you recognize the place(s) from which you receive? Once you can identify this pattern (or whatever your individual patterns are), you will have greater access to the love you have to give.
Inside of a healthy relationship, people fundamentally have love already. There need not be an uncertainty about whether it exists. It’s “ever-present.” What commonly interferes with our ability to give or receive our partner’s love are our own interactions and our internal criticism.
So get radically honest with yourself, and identify the elements of your inner dialogue that could be kinder and more gentle. The time is now to cultivate love for yourself.