7 Couples Communication Tips to Improve Harmony & Happiness
© 2021 Richard Chandler, MA, LPC, Masters in Psychotherapy, Licensed Professional Counselor
By Amy Collett & Richard Chandler, MA, LPC
Many couples have trouble communicating. Even if you've been committed to your partner for years, having sensitive conversations is never easy!
Have you found it difficult to talk to your partner:
- After he or she said or did something that was upsetting for you?
- Have you ever waited weeks to tell your partner that something was bothering you rather than addressing it right away?
- Has your partner ever been embarrassed to be vulnerable in front of you because he or she was worried about what you might think?
Know that you can learn to navigate through times of conflict and talk through your differing perspectives together. Whether you want to discover each other's love languages, set healthy boundaries, or become happier together through couples therapy, these tips can help you improve your communication skills and heal your relationship.
Learn You & Your Spouse's Myers-Briggs® Personality Type
One factor for having different communication styles and ways of doing things relates to your psychological personality type. Although several lenses may identify you and your mate's psychological personality type, the Myers-Briggs® system is the most comprehensive, verified, and complete. To determine your Myers-Briggs type, you take a psychological personality assessment. Then, a qualified Myers-Briggs professional interprets your results.
The MBTI® measures extroversion vs. introversion, thinking vs. feeling, sensing vs. intuiting, or perceiving vs. judging. My role as a marriage therapist and Myers-Briggs® Master Practitioner is to explain how your partner's type interact, sometimes making it more difficult to understand each other.
Discovering your unique psychological profile — and your partner's — can also help you identify your personal needs within the context of your relationship.
Gaining Connection by Identifying Your Husband or Wife's Love Languages
In addition to learning about your Myers-Briggs® psychological types, you and your partner may benefit from revealing each other's love languages. Your love language explains what helps you feel loved and appreciated.
Marriage counselor and love language author Gary Chapman, Ph.D. identifies the following 5 Love Language categories:
- Physical touch
- Acts of service
- Quality time
- Words of affirmation
If one or both of you have been feeling like the other is distant, it may be that you have differing love languages. In addition to Chapman's book, an overview of the Love Languages® might help you to crack the code for you and your boyfriend or girlfriend's ways of expressing love! By focusing on your partner's love language, you can show your affection for them in a way that they will genuinely appreciate.
Approach Problems in Your Marriage as a Team
When you and your partner discuss a problem in your relationship, it's all too easy to start bickering with each other. Avoid this pitfall by approaching the situation as a team instead of treating each other as the problem. How might you work together to address an issue, rather than blaming one another for past mistakes?
For instance, maybe your home has been too messy for your liking, and the clutter is stressing you or your mate out. When you talk to your partner, concentrate on how you can both contribute to maintaining a cleaner home. Instead of blaming each other for the mess, decide which cleaning duties you'll both be responsible for going forward.
Additionally, for example, you can:
- De-clutter your home by donating items you don't need
- Dedicate a room for exercise or meditation
- Purchase low-maintenance house plants
- Buy smart organizational bins, containers, and shelving
- Establish the proper place for items, then put them back in their designated place
Practice Radical Honesty with Your Romantic Partner
The key to communicating in a relationship? You have to be radically honest — especially when it's hard. Although it helps to be gentle and thoughtful in expressing your true feelings, tell your truth rather than allowing issues to simmer and build up pressure.
When you find yourself biting your tongue, it is an indication that it is time for you to speak up. And when there are barriers to honest communication regarding your mutual happiness, it may be time to see another qualified marriage therapist, or me, to begin couples counseling together.
Speak & Listen to Your Partner with Vulnerability
Parents and our local tribe may have taught us that being vulnerable isn't emotionally safe. We could fear that other people will mock us, manipulate us, or find another way to use our vulnerability against us when we reveal something personal.
Perhaps you even opened up to a former romantic partner about something significant to you, and it resulted in that person criticizing or embarrassing you and shutting you down. One way or another, you've probably received the message that vulnerability is a sign of weakness and that you must keep your guard up to protect your open heart.
But to have a healthy, happy relationship, you need to be willing to be vulnerable with your partner — and he or she needs to be ready to do the same. Psychology Today states that vulnerability is necessary for true intimacy. Exposing your deeply felt emotions indicates courage, not weakness. Make it a point to dig deeper with your partner; ask questions that will encourage you both to reveal more of yourselves.
Set Boundaries with Your Mate to Balance Individuality with Communication & Intimacy
You can't drop consideration of healthy boundaries once you're in a relationship with a girlfriend, boyfriend, or marriage partner. Even within an intimate relationship, boundaries are necessary! When you establish clear boundaries, you can enjoy smoother communication - you've both clarified your needs, as well as the kind of treatment that you will and won't accept from each other.
When you have to set a boundary, explain your perspective by focusing on your personal needs rather than making your partner feel like they have somehow made a mistake. Setting healthy boundaries can be tricky at first, but you will likely find that your relationship improves as a result.
Consider Couples Counseling with Me, Richard Chandler, MA, LPC
When is it time to seek professional guidance through couples counseling?
Verywell Mind suggests going to counseling with your partner if:
- You have been withdrawing from each other.
- You are often critical and defensive towards one another.
- You've begun to feel resentment or even contempt towards your partner.
- Your physical touch and sexual connection have diminished, become less frequent, or have completely stopped.
- Your happiness individually and with each other is trending downward.
Do your best to both be on board for couples therapy. If it feels like you or your partner is forcing the other, marriage therapy may not work as well as either of you would like.
On the other hand, do not wait too long to begin, even if one of you is not as committed as the other.
When possible, choose a marriage counselor together. You and your partner need to connect with someone with whom you both feel comfortable opening up.
Communicating with your spouse or committed romantic partner can be challenging at times, even though you both love each other. If you currently feel like you're talking past each other, you increase your odds of working through your differences with marriage therapy.
By implementing these seven helpful communication strategies, you can more easily grow together as a couple and strengthen your romantic connection with your beloved.