It’s too late when it has happened.
A break up or divorce is most often a definite state. All we can do afterwards is adapt and survive.
While we try to figure out what went wrong in the beginning – (we spend a lot of time on that) – slowly but surely another sticky question arises:
What could I have done to prevent the divorce?
While the reasons for a break up or divorce are numerous, they all have one thing in common: a gradual breakdown in communication.
This is, in many ways, fatal for the relationship.
What is the one skill that will make a marriage or relationship happy?
It is, without a doubt, having unique interpersonal communication skills.
These skills can be specified into some secondary skills, which are: conflict resolution, self-disclosure, listening, non-verbal communication, perception and many others.
These skills are not innate skills; we have to learn them … one way or another.
If we are lucky, we get a chance to see and learn how good interpersonal skills look like as we grow up, in our parental home. If this is not the case, we have to learn them.
It gets complicated if our parents demonstrated a false way of communicating and resolving conflict. We didn’t get a chance to see how it’s done right – and it then can take years before we even realize that we lack these particular skills.
All we need is knowledge and a little practice, and we’ll be on our way to success at work and at home.
I’ve put together a small list of those communication skills which I think are fundamental for having a great relationship.
Here they are – the five most important communication tips:
1. Listen, Listen, Listen
Really listen to what your partner has to say. Keep an open mind to the other’s arguments.
Let them vent their frustrations and fears, and give them the opportunity to come to their real point, (unfortunately, some people tend to beat around the bush about where the real problem lies).
Also, be an active listener. Don’t tune out if you disagree.
2. Never Interrupt
Some people mentally rehearse their answer in their heads instead of listening to their partner. The result is often rude interruptions.
This not only creates aggression but also slows down the flow of the conversation.
It is a bad habit, so stop doing it.
3. Control Your Temper
While listening to your partner, patiently letting them vent their emotions, it happens that they say things that hurt your emotions or your pride. It’s now critical that you stay calm. Control your temper and don’t let it tempt you into responding aggressively. Never use bad language.
Most of the time this is a turning point in a conversation, from being constructive to being destructive.
4. Start From The “I”-Perspective
When trying to make a point, don’t blame or accuse your partner – come from an “I”-perspective:
Always talk about how YOU experience things and your feelings about it. And also don’t forget to ask for your partner’s feelings too.
Instead of saying: “Why do you always leave the toothpaste open?” – Talk about how you experience it: “I feel sick to my stomach every time I see that open toothpaste in the morning. My whole day is ruined afterward”.
(I know this is a ridiculous example, but you get the point).
5. Be A Team-Player
Don’t be a smart-ass and think that you always know the right answer. Instead, allow that you both work out the proper solution TOGETHER.
See a conversation like a brainstorming session rather than an exchange of arguments.
Acquiring good conversational skills is the best relationship advice I can give you, because no matter how big the differences and incompatibilities are, good conversation skills can often prevent the worst from happening.
This is what I recommend:
Set a fixed appointment every week for one hour when you and your partner do nothing but talk. Minimize distractions, turn off the TV and phones and talk about your day.
Each one of you should speak freely without interruptions or comments for a particular time, (let’s say 15 minutes). Talk about what you feel, what you hoped for that day, what you fear, your successes and failures. Really open up.
After 30 minutes, engage in an open conversation.
Do this every week at the same time!
I cannot guarantee you that your relationship will last forever if you regularly practice this skill, but what I CAN guarantee you is that your relationship will be much deeper and more fulfilled.
Isn’t that a good thing to experience?
(Photograph is a courtesy of assbach )