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11 Communication Rules Every Couple Should Follow in Their Relationship

Ask open-ended questions

While there are plenty of situations where closed-ended questions are appropriate, couples who consistently communicate with open-ended questions, to spark “big talk,” show that they have a sincere interest in their partners and want to create closeness.

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11 Communication Rules Every Couple Should Follow in Their Relationship

11 Communication Rules Every Couple Should Follow in Their Relationship

https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/improve-relationship-communication/

rd.com

11

Key Ideas

Think in terms of a “bank account”

You can save or withdraw money from your bank account.

Save your criticism and deposit your compliments. 

It’s essential to have more deposits (in the form of praise, kindness, expressions of approval) than withdrawals (in the form of criticism).

Don’t get defensive

There’s a difference between seeking the truth versus automatically getting defensive. 

When an argument arises, you should both work from the position of 'what can we do to move our shared life forward?’ instead of investing energy into showing why one point of view is correct and the other one is not.

When you’re wrong, own it

If you’re wrong, don’t shy away or hope it just goes away. 

Take responsibility for your actions, be sincere, and work to make the other person feel accounted for and reassured that you’ll behave better next time. 

Ask open-ended questions

While there are plenty of situations where closed-ended questions are appropriate, couples who consistently communicate with open-ended questions, to spark “big talk,” show that they have a sincere interest in their partners and want to create closeness.

Focus on one issue at a time

Even if there are many big things bothering you, bring up a maximum of only one per conversation.

If you ignore this vital rule, you will overwhelm the other person, and they will have a tendency to emotionally shut down.

Listen before speaking

When you're engaged in a high-stakes conversation, listen to what your partner is saying, without interrupting until he or she is finished. Then, and only then, carefully formulate your response. 

Don’t rehash the past

An argument from the past should stay in the past. 

Arguments will happen, but they need to be fully dealt with, and then forgotten about and never brought up again, for a couple to move forward daily with a fresh slate.

Save it for another day

If it doesn’t seem like the right moment to express yourself, hold onto your feelings, and bring them up at a time when you’re in a calm space, and you can both properly address them with care and rationality. 

Don’t use extremes

Accusations such as “you always…” or “you never…” drain the flavor out of a relationship, making your partner feel like a zero. 

Use criticism with pin-point accuracy and avoid the collateral damage that comes from the sweeping generalizations.

Use “I” statements

Instead of telling others how awful they are, using ‘I statements’ expresses your own feelings and needs, especially related to the topic that is dividing you.

This creates a peaceful resolution based on meeting each other’s needs. 

Don’t assume

When you’re feeling uneasy around your partner, don’t assume your cues are acknowledged without verbally expressing them. 

Great couples communicate well, without getting upset with each other for “messing up” by not understanding what’s going on in the head. If they are upset, they’ll openly say so, to resolve and move on.

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You don’t paraphrase or restate

Practice paraphrasing instead of responding with nods, a-ha's, and yeah's. 

This type of communicating makes your partner feel like they are getting real attention and empathy.

Focusing on the person instead of the issue

Try to talk about the issue at hand and how it makes you feel.

For example:
“It makes me feel frustrated that you forgot what I wanted. Is there a way I can help you to remember next time?”

Not showing your appreciation

It is important to remind your partner you appreciate them. 

This generates a warm and loving atmosphere as a backdrop to your relationship.

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Communication needs improvement if:
  • You are having trouble getting through to your spouse; you talk about the same issue over and over again without coming to an agreement.
  • You seem unable to have a decent conversation...
Just Communicate

It is difficult to discuss some sensitive subjects, and we are tempted to avoid them. Other times we simply expect our partners to know what we are doing, thinking or what we want.

It is much better to get things out in the open regularly rather than waiting to have big rows that might damage your relationship.

Listen actively

Be curious about your partner’s point of view rather than trying to anticipate every situation. Active listening involves:

  • Paying attention to your partner.
  • Tolerating your silence.
  • Paying attention to your partner’s nonverbal communication.
  • Reflecting and paraphrasing what your partner is saying: I hear you say you feel angry when I ….. Is that what you are saying?

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Soft language vs. hard language
  • Soft language: it uses “I” statements and focuses on the actions that took place, how they made us feel, and what we want to happen.
  • Hard language: it starts wi...
Create space

It's useful to agree in advance to call a “timeout” or “press pause” before arguments begin.

It will give you the time to work through what happened. Because arguing when you are in a low emotional state is not going to help you.

What if…?

Ask yourself these questions: “What if the other person had a point? What if I wasn’t being honest with myself? What if I wasn’t taking responsibility for something?”

This will provide a new lens through which you'll see the situation. You might realize that there are things you could take responsibility for, that you were probably ignoring based on your initial triggered response.

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